Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 30, 2011

PSN hackers claim to have 2+ million credit card numbers – The PlayStation Network hack is now considered to be one among the biggest data thefts of all time, and according to the claims made by the alleged hackers on underground Internet forums, it seems that some 2.2 million credit card numbers were, indeed, stolen.

13 Awesome Ways to Use the Windows Key – That little key with the Microsoft Windows logo on it is not just–ahem–Window-dressing. Here are 13 tips for making the most of it.

Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame – I am sick and tired of software companies that try to make a quick buck by tricking their customers into installing programs they don’t need. It’s time to name and shame the worst purveyors of foistware out there.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Using Protection on Facebook – This free browser add-on disables scam and virus links on any Facebook page you view. Other than the warnings it inserts when a threat is found, it’s almost totally invisible. It doesn’t seem to catch the newest threats, but as more users install this free product it should become more effective.

Four Stars for Ubuntu 11.04, aka, Natty Narwhal – With its astounding array of distributions, considerable complexity, and traditional user-unfriendliness compared to what you often see with Mac- or PC-based operating systems, Linux has always been controversial. But Ubuntu 11.04 (“Natty Narwhal”), the latest version of one of the most popular free mainstream distros (available through a 700MB download at, is likely to be one of the most polarizing releases yet.

Report: U.S. Is Hyping Threat Of Cyber War – A new report suggests that lawmakers, policy wonks and corporations are sensationalizing the risk of cyber attacks far beyond the actual threat. The inflation of cyber security threat, like the inflation of the threat of Communism during the Cold War, or terrorist acts in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, could lead to laws that curtail individual freedoms and regulate the Internet in unnecessary ways, the report concludes.

Pop Quiz: Windows chkdsk command – Do you know which chkdsk stage verifies indexes or which switch fixes errors? Test your knowledge of the Windows chkdsk command.

Company News:

First Look: Apple’s White iPhone Hits the Street – Following months of delays–and rampant speculation as to the causes of those delays–Apple officially released the white iPhone 4 April 28. Available on both Verizon and AT&T in the United States, the smartphone boasts the same specs as the black iPhone 4 that made its initial debut in 2010. The iPhone 4’s body incorporates two panes of chemically strengthened alumino-silicate glass, bound by a stainless-steel antenna rim. We bring you a first look.

Amazon: Faulty Upgrade Caused EC2 Outtage – Amazon’s multi day outtage on its Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2) started with a faulty upgrade to one of its East Coast facility just after midnight on April 21, the company admitted in a blog post on Thursday.

Motorola Atrix photos: The docking smartphone – The Motorola Atrix is one of the most innovative smartphones of 2011. It broke new ground with a dual core processor and 1.0GB of RAM, but it’s best known feature is its ability to dock and turn into a desktop or laptop PC. Here is the unboxing of the Atrix as well as full photos of its docking accessories.

Is AMD about to take up ARM? – Several recent stories have jump-started rumors that AMD may adopt ARM. This might be the fastest and least-costly way to develop a chip for tablets.

Off Topic (Sort of):

South Park Pillories Apple In Typically Raunchy Style – Steve Jobs turns up as a monstrous tyrant as Trey Parker and Matt Stone take Apple’s recent privacy woes to a grotesque conclusion.

Boost Your Brain’s Power With a 9-Volt Battery and Some Wet Sponges – It seems, with the help of a 9-volt battery, wire, crocodile clips, and wet sponges, you can increase your brain’s performance and, more importantly, return your brain to its younger, more malleable and learning-receptive state.

WISE peers deep into space (photos) – The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission, which kicked off in 2009, has sent back some impressive photos of faraway places.

Reactors, residents and risk – A world population analysis reveals the locations that could put the most people in danger should a nuclear accident occur. (submitted by Dar)

Today’s Quote:

There is a strange kind of tragic enigma associated with the problem of racism. No one, or almost no one, wishes to see themselves as racist; still racism persists, real and tenacious.”

–    Albert Memmi

Today’s Free Downloads:

Dropbox 1.2.0 – Dropbox is a useful tool that will enable you to instantly store your files online and share them. It can also synchronize the files from your offline directories and online storage.

RoboForm2Go – RoboForm2Go is a portable version of RoboForm – a secure password manager and form filler. Plug your USB key with RoboForm2Go on it into any computer, anywhere in the world.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

6 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 30, 2011

  1. Michael Fisher

    Hi Bill

    Re: “Boost Your Brain’s Power With a 9-Volt Battery and Some Wet Sponges”

    9-Volt ? Wet sponges ? This is a scaled-down version of a technique popular with the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit that helped the tongue-tied with their speech difficulties . It just goes to show that you never can tell where research might lead 🙂

    • Hi Michael,

      When I read this what immediately came to mind was electroconvulsive therapy. Not too far off your reference to torture. Dare I say – shocking! 🙂



  2. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    As you know, I am a big fan of RoboForm2Go. The free version is quite limited with its maximum of 10 passcards. I had no hesitation in paying the 13.99 GBP for the full version. I currently have more than 120 passwords saved (every one different and with 13 digits, randomly generated by the software). After the recent Sony PSP debacle and other well-documented instances, more and more people must be becoming aware of the need for this. I am well aware of your refusal to trust this type of password manager but it is way more secure than the method (if any) adopted by most users.

    I would strongly suggest the following safeguards:

    1) Backup all your passwords and personal data, either using the online sync facility or on a separate flash drive. I do both.

    2) Encrypt your flash drive(s). There are a wealth of programs for this purpose. My own favourite is TrueCrypt.

    3) As with any flash drive use a virus/malware protector. Again there are many possible alternatives but I use Panda USB Vaccine. This works in the background and automatically gives protection against USB-borne infections for your own and others’ computers.

    Kind regards

    • Hi John,

      As usual, your advice is dead on.

      My personal preference in avoiding password managers is based on my experience level. Standard users should be guided by their particular skill level.

      On balance, I do recommend password manager applications for average users. Having said that, I would like to point out – they are not a panacea, nor are they infallible (they can be, and have been, compromised).



      • John Bent

        Hi Bill,

        Absolutely not infallible, as with every other aspect of computing. Perish the thought anyone would mistake my enthusiasm for any belief otherwise.

        Kind regards

        • Hi John,

          With your depth of knowledge, you’ve often pointed out why the absolute reliance on any solution is foolhardy. So no, I wouldn’t expect you’d see this any differently.

          Though I’m surprised how often others do.