Monthly Archives: December 2012 – Tech Thoughts Annual Report

Year end reviews and wrap- ups, bringing us up-to-date on the comings and goings in virtually every area of human endeavor (and then some), seem to pop out of the woodwork every year at this time. Not much of a surprise then, to see WordPress continue to issue an annual Blog summary to all WordPress Bloggers.

Here’s the WordPress summary of what happened on Tech Thoughts this past year. Not entirely accurate but within spitting distance.



The Blog-Health-o-Meter reads Wow!

Crunchy numbers

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 1,300,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 23 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

In 2012, there were 521 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 3,205 posts.

The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 6,193 views. The most popular post that day was Aldi Bot – Build A Botnet For $15!

Featured image Featured image  Featured image

Attractions in 2012

These are the posts that got the most views in 2012.

Some of your most popular posts were written before 2012. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.

How did they find you?

The top 4 referring sites (sites from which users came to your site) in 2012 were:

  3. Google Reader


Hey WP! What about Australia – the cobbers (Mal, John W., John M., …………. weren’t far behind.   Smile


A special “Thank You” to:

Delenn13 (Canada)

John Bent (UK)

Hipockets (USA)

Mal (Australia)

Fred (USA)

If you’re a regular reader here, you have my thanks for making this Blog a fun place to write up my thoughts and opinions.

The truth is – the success of Tech Thoughts is due, almost entirely, to the terrific regular readers here (many of whom have become quite good friends), who forgive my foibles and occasional fractious nature. You are a great bunch of people!

And, to – couldn’t do this without you. Thank you.


Filed under Personal Perspective

Happy New Year 2013

Dear readers and subscribers,

As 2012 comes to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year. May 2013 fulfill all its promise, and may all your expectations be met.


“Every man should be born again on the first day of January.  Start with a fresh page.  Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were, and are past”.

~    Henry Ward Beecher

The year ahead could be the perfect time to ramp up your happiness quotient.


Count your blessings and express gratitude for what you have.

Cultivate optimism.

Practice acts of kindness.

Avoid social comparison.

Nurture relationships.

Commit to your goals.

Learn to forgive.

Take care of your body – get active.

Step off on the right foot with a  little mood music – a particularly good rendition of Abba’s Happy New Year (playable in HD 1080p) on YouTube.


Filed under Living Life, Personal Perspective

Merry Christmas – Joyeux Noel

Dear readers and subscribers,


Christmas – the traditional  season of giving and sharing – remains wonderfully inescapable. Its traditions and rituals, established in simpler times, continue to remind us – those we hold close are the greatest gifts of all.

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The happiness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

Have a wonderful Christmas, however you define it.

A little mood music – maybe?

Tech Thoughts is winding down for the Christmas break – so, you might find us fairly quiet the next several weeks. Regular posting will begin again on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.


Filed under Point of View

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 22, 2012

Three New Year’s resolutions for PC users – A new year is upon us, and that can mean only one thing: resolutions. For most folks, these tend to be of the “get in shape” or “quit smoking” variety. I have three suggestions for improving the quality of your computing life in 2013.

Click, Print, Shoot: Downloadable Guns Possible – Downloading a gun’s design plans to your computer, building it on a three-dimensional printer and firing it minutes later. No background checks, no questions asked. Sound far-fetched? It’s not. And that is disquieting for gun control advocates.

3D-Printed Adult Toys? 3DEA Has You Covered – A new pop-up 3D printing emporium in NYC is offering some interesting … gadgets.

Facebook Launches Rumored Snapchat Competitor, Poke – Facebook on Friday released a new app, dubbed Poke, which gives users a new way to chat with their Facebook friends.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Send one-click automated Gmail replies with Chrome extension – Do you find that you are forced to repeat yourself throughout the workday? If this repetition occurs via e-mail, then you might give GmailWiz a try. This Chrome extension adds up to four buttons to Gmail that send automated responses.

Windows 8 previews to go dark in 3 weeks – Microsoft’s free previews of Windows 8 will expire next month, giving users about three weeks to upgrade to a paid copy or face hourly restarts. All three Windows 8 previews — the Developer Preview of September 2011, the Consumer Preview of February 2012, and the Release Preview — expire January 15, 2013.

Bodhi Linux runs on Google’s Nexus 7 tablet – Google’s Nexus 7 is quite the versatile device, as it is capable of running various flavors of Linux and Chromium, as well as its native Android operating system.

Instagram Adds New ‘Mayfair’ Filter, Support for 25 Languages – Perhaps to again say sorry for its recent terms-of-service kerfuffle, Instagram has offered users a peace offering in the form of a new filter and support for more than two dozen additional languages.

FB’s $1 messages: One more way to get your credit card – The update to Facebook Messages is more than a change in a few settings. It’s also a sign of the social network seeking yet an opportunity to encourage impulse spending.

iPad is left behind as rival tablets get multiuser support – Want to loan your tablet to a child or friend but don’t want to provide access to all your data? Windows, Android, and even Amazon tablets make it easy. Apple’s iPad has some catching up to do.


“Change Facebook color theme” scam leads to spying Chrome extension – This time, the users are required to download a Chrome extension – and accept its EULA and Privacy Policy – that will be able to access their data on all websites, their tabs and their browsing activity.

Ransomware Extortion Scam Locks Machines, Demands Payment – The latest ransomware scam is locking down infected machines and displaying localized webpages warning users that their computer contains “banned material” and won’t be unlocked until a fine is paid, according to a report from McAfee’s Naganathan Jawahar.

How Hackable Is Your Bank Account? Call Customer Service to Find Out – I was recently stupefied to find out it’s extremely easy to get into my (former) bank accounts. All you needed to do was call up customer service and verify very basic information. One bank even reset my security questions when I said I didn’t remember them. This is unacceptable; here’s how to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

Samsung Acknowledges Exynos Root Exploit – Samsung downplayed a root exploit vulnerability in some of its Exynos processors, and promised a patch for the flaw, according to a company statement acquired by AndroidCentral.

Crimeware Enterprises Mirror Legitimate Businesses – Not too long ago, it would have been extremely far-fetched to imagine buying crime services a la carte. But that’s the dynamic that emerged in 2012 to plague cybercrime victims on both the consumer and corporate end of the spectrum. The black-market infrastructure that supports cybercriminals is increasingly backboned by packaged malware, exploit kits, as well as hacks and fraud as a service. Expect that to continue and evolve in 2013, experts say.

Vulnerabilities in Java and Adobe to become main targets for cybercriminals – Software vulnerabilities will be the main target of cyber-criminals next year, according to a list of security trends that will dominate in 2013 by PandaLabs.

Company News:

Google ‘X Phone’ to compete with Apple and Samsung – Google-owned Motorola plans to release a sophisticated new smartphone next year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

EU Charges Samsung With Patent Abuse – The EU formally accused Samsung of patent abuse in its dealings with Apple.

Nokia, RIM End Patent Feud With New Deal – Nokia and Research in Motion have reached a patent deal that ends the companies’ ongoing litigation

No, RIM’s BlackBerry isn’t dead just yet – Despite a declining market share, RIM still maintains a fairly large and loyal install base, especially in the Latin American and Asian markets – providing the industry heavyweight with a steady revenue stream.

Webopedia Daily:

Optical Zoom – On a digital camera, optical zoom is a true zoom feature. It allows you to zoom in (or out) on the subject in the LCD or viewfinder. This will enable you to get a closer view of the subject before taking your picture. Optical zoom changes the magnification of images with the actual optical glass before the images reach the imaging sensor. Optical zoom allows for better photo quality than digital zoom.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Apocalypse Illustrated – 500px’s photographers imagine the end of the world as we know it.

Why You Should Run, Not Walk, in the Rain – Do you stay drier walking or running in the rain? Many of us run, and it seems like common sense, but this question has been debated before. MinutePhysics explains on YouTube the science behind why running is the best strategy if you don’t like getting wet.

Dvorak: Billion Dollar Fads – Which will go down as the biggest tech flash in the pan of the coming year: Instagram? Cloud computing? Facebook? iPad? Time for some faddish prognostication.

Free Advice for the People in These Stock Photos Who Are Grappling with Technology – The people in these stock photos are needlessly frustrated, perplexed or nervous about technology. It doesn’t have to be this way! Here’s some straight talk for each of them.

Infographic: Profile of an Online College Student – College campuses have been an American institution for millennia, but not all higher learning is being done in a traditional classroom anymore.

Today’s Quote:

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

–       George Orwell

Today’s Free Downloads:

CCleaner – Nowadays, cookies, temporary files, and various other means of tracking your Web footprint are par for the course. Some of these trackers are useful, while others can be potentially intrusive. Thankfully, there are myriad freeware cleaners out there that help keep your system in check. CCleaner is one of the better ones for its ease of use and powerful cleaning capabilities.

Desktop Earth – Desktop Earth is a wallpaper program that will appeal to people who are curious about what the Earth looks like from space. Operating on a simple premise, this is a fun and interesting way to spice up your desktop.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

How to Protect Your Privacy on Social Media

Guest writer Sarah Clare tackles the thorny issue of Internet privacy and offers spot-on advice  to help you keep your online information private.

imageThis week, social media was abuzz over reports that Instagram’s new terms of service allowed the photo-sharing site to hock its users personal photos for advertisements and other promotions. The story prompted outcry about the privacy that members can expect (or not expect) on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, which purchased Instagram and which has a spotty history when it comes to its users’ privacy.

Understanding your rights and how you can protect your privacy on social media is important. The things you do online leave a virtual footprint that can be traced back to you for years to come. If you really want to protect your privacy on social media, here are a few things you can do:

Use a Dummy E-mail

One of the easiest ways that other users can find you on social media is by searching for your e-mail. You can make it harder, if not impossible, for people to find you by using a dummy e-mail. That way, only your close friends or family who you give the e-mail to can find your profile. Be sure to use an e-mail that does not include your name and that you only use for this purpose.

Use a Fake Name

Of course, even if you’re using a dummy e-mail, if you’re using your real name, anyone can find you. Make it harder for others to connect your profile to you by using a fake name. An easy way to do it is to simply drop your last name, using your first and middle name instead. Or you can use a nickname instead of your first name. Or you can make up a new name entirely.

Again, be sure you keep this name private and only give it to close friends and family who you want to know about your profile. Don’t use the name for any other purposes.

Set Privacy Options

Every social network has options for allowing you to control what you share with your network and with the public. You can control your privacy settings for your whole profile and for individual posts. Take the time to investigate your options and to set what you can to private. In many cases, you can lock down all your information so that it is visible only to your contacts (or even only to yourself).

Keep Business and Personal Separate

Most of us want to maintain some privacy online to protect our professional identities. You can help do this by using one profile for your private connections and another profile for your business connections. Of course, you would use your real name for your business profile and would share little to no personal information on it. You can then share personal information on your personal profile kept private through the previous steps.

Control What You Share

Of course, the easiest way to keep your information private online is not to share it. No matter what you do to protect your information, there will be some way for businesses or other people to see it. Keep your information private by keeping it offline, especially personal photos, information about your children, or thoughts about your political or religious beliefs.

Online privacy is a serious issue, and one which requires a greater level of personal responsibility as the options for connecting online continue to expand. These tips can help you to keep your personal information private while you connect with friends and business contacts online.

Sarah Clare is a writer and oversees the site, where she has recently been researching bug tracking software. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys cooking and scrapbooking.


Filed under Guest Writers, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Social Networks

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 21, 2012

Top 10 Windows apps of 2012 – We’re back with our year-end look at the most popular products on the site in 2012. See which products reigned supreme on and in its 10 most popular software categories.

Video games to come under scrutiny in U.S. gun violence review – Violence in video games and other aspects of pop culture in the U.S. will be among the areas examined as part of an investigation aimed at reducing gun violence in the country.

Facebook Test Will Let You Message Strangers for $1 – Facebook is testing a feature that will let select users pay $1 to send messages to people with whom they have no connection on the social network.

Facebook begins rolling out new privacy tools – Unveiled last week, the tools are touted as helping users better manage who can see what on the social network.

9 PC games that redefine ‘holiday family time’ – The family that games together, stays together. Get started this year with these 9 addictive multiplayer titles.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Anonymous Twitter Account Returns, Westboro Campaign Continues – The Twitter account associated with the Anonymous hacker collective has returned to the Web after being suspended on Wednesday

Microsoft fixes faulty OpenType security patch – The company has re-released an important security patch, after the first iteration messed with OpenType rendering for some PowerPoint, Coreldraw and Quark Xpress users.

Consumer Reports makes case for Windows 7 PCs – Windows 7 may be the better choice as a PC operating system on new systems than the just-released Windows 8, Consumer Reports magazine said this week.

A Cell Phone for Those Who Just Want a Cell Phone: Doro PhoneEasy 618 – Some folks, especially seniors, just want a simple, standard cell phone rather than a smart phone with all the apps and hardware extras like cameras, GPS, and accelerometers. The Doro PhoneEasy on the budget priced Consumer Cellular network offers clear design and good call quality in a no-frills package.

Shoot, share videos on iOS – Google’s new YouTube Capture app for the iPhone lets you share videos quickly and easily.

Advanced Photo Editing on Your Tablet: Snapseed for Android – Now that the company behind Snapseed has been purchased by Google, we get an Android version of what Apple designated the Best iPad App of 2011. And as our Editors’ Choice designation indicates, it’s tops in photo editing on Android. Best of all? It’s now free


FCC issues security guidance to smartphone users – The Federal Communications Commission is advising smartphone users on how to protect their mobile devices and data from mobile security threats. The Commission released an online tool called the “Smartphone Security Checker” this week that outlines a 10-step action plan that mobile users can follow to prevent their personal data from being exposed in case their devices get infected with malware or are lost, stolen or resold.

“Facebook 2013 Demo app” leads to phishing – The offer of an app that supposedly allows users to view a new version of Facebook is the newest trick employed by phishers to get their hands on the users’ login credentials, Symantec warns. In reality, there is no “Facebook 2013 Demo” app – the page on which the users’ are urged to log in has only one goal: record the submitted emails and passwords and sent them to a server controlled by the phishers.

PowerPoint about the Mayan “end of the world” secretly booby trapped with malware – Interested in the buzz around the Mayan calendar ceasing to increment after December 21st, 2012? Don’t go looking for presentations about the topic, you might be in for a nasty surprise.

India developing own OS to boost cybersecurity – Defense Research and Development Organization is creating country’s own operating system to reduce its dependence on foreign operating systems, which it says may contain security risks.

Online reputation management tips – AVG announces twelve tips for individuals to safeguard their reputations while engaging in heightened e-commerce and social media activities during the holidays. AVG offers the following twelve tips to maintain control and promote fruitful engagement in digital life.

Will the Sweet Orange exploit kit dethrone Blackhole? – There’s a new exploit kit being offered for sale and it seems to be slowly but surely gaining in popularity. Dubbed Sweet Orange, the kit uses exploits for Java, PDF, IE and Firefox vulnerabilities, and is regularly updated.

Company News:

Is the BlackBerry PlayBook making a comeback? – The latest quarter showed a surprising rise in PlayBook shipments, suggesting a hint of life for the once-mocked tablet.

Patent Office Rejects Apple’s ‘Pinch to Zoom’ Patent – Apple was dealt a setback in its patent battle with Samsung this week when it was revealed that patent officials ruled that they should not have issued a key “pinch to zoom” patent to Cupertino.

CloudMe releases native app for Samsung SmartTV – Swedish cloud powerhouse launches the first sync / storage app to be available for the Samsung SmartTV range of TV’s and Blu-ray players. CloudMe offers a full range of native apps in HTML5, GoogleTV, Samsung SmartTV, Android, iPhone, Mac, Windows, Linux and WebDAV with even more releases scheduled in the near future.

Google Sells Motorola’s Set-Top Box Business for $2 Billion – Google is selling off Motorola Mobility’s set top box division, Motorola Home, to Arris Group for $2.35 billion, the companies announced on Thursday in a statement.

Webopedia Daily:

iPod Shuffle – The smallest device in Apple’s lineup of iPod digital portable music players. Now in its fourth generation, the iPod Shuffle features an all-metal, unibody design with an integrated belt clip for listening to the player in a hands-free fashion, as well as 2GB of flash memory storage and VoiceOver capabilities for audibly reporting song details and the current battery level. The iPod Shuffle was refreshed in 2012 and now sells for $49.

Off Topic (Sort of):

5 Awesome 2012 Google Doodles – Google has been brightening up all year with a variety of doodles.

Today in TIME Tech History: Rube Goldberg (1970), Picture-in-Picture (1987), 96 Megabytes of RAM (1998) and More – Let’s hop in the TIME Wayback Machine to see which notable tech-related stories were published on December 21 between 1923 and today.

We need standard disclosure for online privacy. Here’s how – Instagram. Facebook. Google. Apple. Microsoft. How can we debate over an acceptable standard of privacy online if there’s little transparency at every turn? I propose a new approach.

Dvorak: The Spelling Error That Survived – You know the near 40-year-old word processor is in a sorry state when writers can still get away with typos and grammatical errors. A revolution in word processing can and must come soon.

Highest profile software failures of 2012 – SQS compiled a list of the worst software failures over the past 12 months. This year’s annual survey is based on major software failures throughout 2012 and highlights the continuing problems faced by the financial and banking sector, which have dominated the software glitch top ten lists over the past three years

Doomsday and 5 Other Things Not to Believe – Doomsday is not occurring on Dec. 21. But we believe a lot of silly things.

Today’s Quote:

“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.”

–      W. H. Auden

Today’s Free Downloads:

CrystalDiskInfo – This free system utility monitors the health and status of your drives and displays the information in a compact, easy-to-read interface. CrystalDiskInfo monitors and displays your drives’ temperature and SMART data, and it can even alert you when things start to go wrong.

MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter – Save your favorite music from YouTube to MP3 format easily with this handy little app. MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter software is extremely easy to use and allows you to extract audio tracks from YouTube videos and YouTube playlists with the highest quality possible.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 20, 2012

12 Tips for Troubleshooting Your Internet Connection – Here are some quick fixes for your most common wireless Internet and router problems.

Twitter Finally Letting Users Download Old Tweets – Twitter is finally making good on a promise it made months ago to let users download a record of every single tweet they ever posted.

CloudOn: Microsoft Office on the iPhone, Right Now – An iPad app which provides access to genuine Office programs comes to the iPhone. A startup called CloudOn already has an iPad app which lets you run the real Windows editions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, hosted on one of its remote servers, for free. It competes with OnLive’s OnLive Desktop, and also runs on Android tablets.

Getting started with 23snaps, an Instagram for parents – If you use Instagram primarily to share pictures of your kids with family and friends and are cutting ties with the Facebook-owned app, then you might find 23snaps a suitable replacement.

ZDNet: 10 hottest Five Apps lists of 2012 – The most popular Five Apps lists of 2012 tend to focus on Microsoft Windows and Office – how to make them better, safer or obsolete.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Don’t blame Instagram users — blame Instagram – The tech press says users are at fault for this week’s terms-of-service debacle. Ignore them. the fracas has revealed something ugly in the way that many in the tech press blame average people for Instagram’s mistake. Somehow the botched rollout of a business model has been painted as the fault of the service’s 100 million users.

Most Popular Lifehacker Videos of 2012 – Just a little over two years ago, Lifehacker only had six videos in its Youtube Channel. As we near the end of 2012, that number has grown to 720. Which ones were the most popular this year? Read on to find out.

Microsoft courts Google Apps users with free Office 365 trial – In an attempt to woo users of Google Apps, Microsoft yesterday tripled the length of its Office 365 Small Business free trial from 30 to 90 days. The deal—pegged “P1” in Microsoft’s current stable of subscription plans—offers cloud-based email, shared calendars and Web-based Office app access to up to 10 employees. Normally, P1 costs $72 per user per year.

Twitter temporarily turns out the lights on Anonymous account – After the hacker group allegedly posted a photo of an individual’s private information, its Twitter account goes dark and then is later restored.

The Windows 8 Store is broken: Here’s how to fix it – It’s been two months since the Windows Store launched, and the experience is still pretty rough. More apps aren’t the answer to the problems, in most cases. Joel lays out the issues, and how to fix them.


Android phones hijacked for botnet – If you’ve downloaded any free Android games recently and don’t have an unlimited SMS plan, you may be in for a nasty surprise when the next phone bill hits the mat.

FTC tightens privacy rules for kids’ apps – The Federal Trade Commission will tighten its regulation of mobile apps for kids next year after a recent survey revealed that privacy leaks were common. The new rules, which go into effect in July, require websites and apps geared toward children to obtain parental consent before tracking kids’ behavior or collecting photos, videos, or other identifying information.

2,100 Sex Offenders Pulled From Online Gaming Platforms – New York’s attorney general today announced that 2,100 registered sex offenders have been kicked off various online gaming platforms as part of an effort known as “Operation: Game Over.” Earlier this year, the accounts of 3,500 additional offenders were removed from platforms operated by Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, and Warner Brothers.

Apache malware targeting online banking – Analysis of a malicious Apache module, detected by ESET as Linux/Chapro.A, found that the world’s most widely used web server, Apache, is being used to carry out these attacks, injecting malicious content into web pages served by an infected Linux server, without the knowledge of the website owner.

FTC Demands Companies Disclose How They Gather, Use Consumer Data – The Federal Trade Commission Tuesday demanded nine data brokerage companies turn over details on how they collect and use consumer information as part of an inquiry into the industry’s business practices.

88% of corporate databases vulnerable to cybercrime – GreenSQL revealed that 88 percent of all companies participating in its December survey do not protect their databases from both external and internal threats, and almost one fifth do nothing to protect their databases at all.

Sweet Orange Exploit Kit Offers Customers Higher Infection Rates – The newly emerging Sweet Orange Exploit Kit boasts a 10 to 25 percent infection rate and is promising to drive 150,000 unique visitors per day to the websites of its customers, according to Jeff Doty and Chris Larsen of Blue Coat Security.

Company News:

Dropbox snaps up SnapJoy photo service – Dropbox has bought SnapJoy, a Boulder Colo.-based photo aggregator that launched a year-and-a-half ago. Wednesday’s announced purchase helps Dropbox enhance its position as a photography as well as a general file sharing powerhouse.

Nintendo’s TVii Launches Dec. 20 on Wii U – Nintendo will release its free, integrated TVii remote control service to Wii U owners. The free, integrated service for the new Wii U console combines what viewers watch with how they watch it, creating a second-screen experience on the Wii U GamePad controller.

Redbox Instant launches private beta for video streaming – The streaming service that’s aimed to compete with Netflix rolls out a private beta inviting users to test the service for free for one month.

Google planning cheaper Nexus 7, report claims – Google is planning low-ball itself with an even cheaper Nexus 7, according to an Asia-based report. Google and Asus wowed consumers with the $199 Nexus 7 and now they’re aiming at price points below $150, ultimately going as low as $99, according to Taipei-based Digitimes, citing sources at display component maker O-Film Tech.

Internet advertising revenue hits $9.2 billion in Q3 2012 – Up 18 percent from last year, the revenue is the most spent in a single quarter, the Interactive Advertising Bureau says.

Webopedia Daily:

Cloud Backup Solutions – Cloud backup solutions enable enterprises or individuals to store their data and computer files on the Internet using a storage service provider, rather than storing the data locally on a physical disk, such as a hard drive or tape backup. Backup providers enable customers to remotely access the service using a secure client log in application to back up files from the customer’s computers or data center to the online storage server using an encrypted connection.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Web of Things: A web-connected world of smart devices – Ryan Boudreaux illustrates what is meant by the Web of Things with real-world implementations and an example of where the future of WoT is taking us.

Save the Earth! – By the Chevron Station on 45th in Wallingford, Connecticut, USA. (suggested by Michael F.)

Dvorak: Was 2012 the Year of Tech Blunders? – Allow me to deflate EE Times’ list of the top 10 tech blunders in 2012.

Australian university to issue 11,000 iPads next year – Initiative is part of a curriculum overhaul at the University of Western Sydney that will stress a “blended learning model.”

Email: Middle aged and still going strong – Email celebrated its 41st birthday recently, yet despite its age new research shows that its use is unlikely to significantly wane for at least the next decade.

Today’s Quote:

“Be fit for more than the thing you are now doing. Let everyone know that you have a reserve in yourself; that you have more power than you are now using. If you are not too large for the place you occupy, you are too small for it.

–       James A. Garfield

Today’s Free Downloads:

Puush – There are plenty of screenshot tools out there with different strengths; some aim for simplicity, while others include full-featured image editors for annotating and manipulating your screenshots. The biggest strength of Puush is that it can automatically upload your screenshots and share them with others. We think this program is a great choice for people who need an easy way to store and distribute their screenshots.

Comodo Personal Firewall – Secure your system against internal attacks such as Trojan viruses / malicious software and external attacks by hackers. With a user-friendly single click interface you can allow or block access to the Internet offering complete immunity to attacks and total protection of your personal information. Real time traffic monitoring enables you to react instantly to threats and identify bandwidth bottlenecks.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 20, 2012

Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 19, 2012

Instagram: We Won’t Sell Your Photos – Instagram tonight denied that it will sell user photos without their permission, but acknowledged that the wording of its new terms of service are to blame for any confusion.

How to back up your Instagram photos and delete your account – Not a fan of Instagram potentially selling your photos or using them for advertising purposes? Here are your options.

A Bunch of Tech Things People Have Threatened to Quit Recently – So you’re quitting Instagram. Good for you! It’s your right as a consumer. As a refresher, here’s a look at some other tech-related products, companies and services people have threatened to quit recently.

Meet Plex, the media streamer that will make you forget Netflix and Hulu – Plex is a sophisticated media management program that takes your entire collection of movies, music, and still images and presents it in a slick and navigable package. Plex scans through your media directories and automatically downloads metadata for each file in your collection; later, when you browse through your library, you’ll see synopses, cast information, and even movie posters and TV theme songs.

Free Wi-Fi comes to London’s ‘Square Mile’ – The Cloud is offering everyone in London’s ‘Square Mile’ a free, unlimited Wi-Fi service after signing a new deal with the City of London Corporation.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Good apps for two hot tablets: Nexus 7 and iPad mini – The holiday shopping season will likely prove that the two hottest tablets are the Nexus 7 and the iPad mini. These apps are must-haves for each of them.

Review: Greenshot offers full-feature screen grabs for free – I have to admit I was skeptical about Greenshot, a free, open-source screenshot tool that claims to be as full-featured as similar paid programs. But after using it, I’m a believer: Greenshot may not be perfect, but this free tool has me wondering why I’d ever pay for one like it again.

Google puts Dead Sea Scrolls sacred text online – Since the sacred text of the Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered in the 1940s few besides religious scholars were allowed to closely examine the centuries old text. Google now gives the world up close and personal access to the scrolls, thanks to a partnership with the Israeli Antiquities Authority. Both have put 5000 images of scroll fragments online at resolutions as high as 1215 dpi.

Essential Windows 8 Peripherals – New peripherals for Windows 8 users put many of the touch capabilities and gesture controls baked into Windows 8 into devices that are usable on older systems. Here are eight.

How we built a tiny home theater PC with Intel’s NUC – Intel’s “Next Unit of Computing” platform provides everything you need for a competent entertainment PC in an extremely small package.

Far Cry 3 Review: Entertainment for a Price – Far Cry 3 is a virtual playground for hunting, climbing, shooting, stabbing and looting. In contrast to its predecessor, the nuisances of realism do not apply in Far Cry 3. All that matters is whether you have fun.


Would you like spam with that? McDonald’s pinged for spamming by Australian regulator – The world-famous restaurant chain McDonald’s was deemed to have been spamming when it implemented a ‘send to friends’ feature on one of its websites.

Java 7 update 10 introduces important new security controls – Last week Oracle released Java 7 update 10 to the world without fixing a single vulnerability. That doesn’t mean there aren’t serious security improvements though. New settings could make Java users much safer from here forward.

Germany backs away from using a Trojan on its citizens – for now – Support for the use of a government-created Trojan to intercept the VoIP communications of suspected criminals appears to be on the wane – but it’s far from dead.

Malware-infested Chinese PCs pose risk to the United States – Microsoft has launched an anti-piracy campaign highlighting the risk posed by Windows knockoffs to discourage potential Chinese buyers. After purchasing 169 PCs with bogus copies of Windows, Microsoft found that more than 90 percent contained malware, such as keyloggers and spyware, or deliberate security vulnerabilities.

Cyberespionage is on a ‘relentless upward trend’ – Cyberespionage is nothing new. So a report from the Defense Security Service (DSS) about efforts in foreign countries to steal U.S. technology, intellectual property, trade secretsm and proprietary information might sound like just more of the same. DSS Director Stanley L. Sims said it is more of the same—problem is, much, much more.

India govt unveils five-year plan to revamp cybersecurity – Operations will be coordinated and connected to major critical infrastructure agencies in the country, to monitor real-time information and react faster to cyberattacks.

Company News:

Zynga’s Mark Pincus deemed year’s 4th worst CEO – An annual list of the worst CEOs of 2012 gives the head of the embattled game maker another reason to wish for this year to end.

Google Ventures reveals where it invested in 2012 – In a milestone of sorts, Google Ventures said that this is the first time ever that it has offered a breakdown of the sectors where it invests.

Dell acquires Credant Technologies – Dell has reached an agreement to acquire Credant Technologies, a provider of data protection solutions to control, manage and secure data sent from endpoints to servers, storage and the cloud.

Yahoo China quietly shutters its music service – Following the news that Google dropped its Chinese music service, Yahoo also decides that it needs to adjust its “product strategy.”

Penguin settles DOJ lawsuit over alleged e-book price-fixing – Antitrust lawsuit accused Apple and five book publishers of conspiring to artificially hike prices. Now all but Apple and Macmillan have settled.

ARM steps up security for connected devices – The UK-based ARM has teamed up with Gemalto and Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) to form a new company known as Trustonic.

Webopedia Daily:

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud – Amazon VPC – Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) lets you set up a private cloud (a private, isolated section) within the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing service. Using Amazon VPC, organizations can launch AWS resources in a virtual network topology. Amazon VPC gives organizations complete control over the virtual networking environment, including selection of your own IP address range, creation of subnets, and configuration of route tables and network gateways.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Today in TIME Tech History: 3DO, Left-Handed Gadgets, the Computer ‘Mouse’ and More – Let’s hop in the TIME Wayback Machine to see which notable tech-related stories were published on December 19 between 1923 and today.

Dvorak: Should Facebook Allow Anonymous Accounts? – In a weird twist of fate, Germany told Facebook that it must allow anonymous users even though Facebook’s policy currently requires users to use their real names or else face expulsion. When I first saw this story, I thought Germany was right in this edict, but after some contemplation, it is apparent that Facebook should indeed fight this.

Android-Controlled Toilet Makes Your Non-Android Toilet Seem like a Throne of Spikes, Sandpaper and Lameness – Those of us who don’t own a $2,300+ toilet with a Bluetooth connection that interfaces with an Android phone are at risk of suffering at least three great injustices when we go to the bathroom.

HTML5 is now feature-complete; here’s what’s next – With HTML5 and the Canvas 2D specifications now “feature-complete,” the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is mapping out enhancements for subsequent versions of these technologies.

Internships alone insufficient for cybersecurity education – Short internship stints aren’t enough for students to learn about IT security, and their skills may be irrelevant by the time they enter the workforce due to changing threat landscape.

Today’s Quote:

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

–       H. L. Mencken

Today’s Free Downloads:

Photivo – Photivo is a free and open source (GPL3) photo processor. It handles your RAW files as well as your bitmap files (TIFF, JPEG, BMP, PNG and many more) in a non-destructive 16 bit processing pipe with gimp workflow integration and batch mode.

Inkscape – Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand, CorelDraw, or Xara X using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 18, 2012

PCMag: The Top 100 Websites – Our annual look at the best of the Web features both undiscovered and classic sites that deserve some real estate on your bookmarks tab.

Micro PC showdown! (Yes, they live inside USB drives) – They’re incredibly small, but surprisingly powerful. We show you what these teeny-tiny computers are capable of and how well they perform.

Raspberry Pi Mini PC Gets Own App Store – The pint-sized Raspberry Pi computer now has its very own app store.

Find Wi-Fi on the Fly – If you’re on the hunt for a wireless connection, JiWire’s Wi-Fi Finder (for iPad) app will help you find all Wi-Fi hotspots, both paid and free, anywhere in the world. Unlike other competitors, you don’t need to be online to view the list.

YouTube Capture App Offers Quick Video Recording, Sharing – YouTube today launched a new app, dubbed Capture, that lets iPhone users quickly create and post videos to the Google-owned site.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to get started with DLNA – What the heck is DLNA and why you should care about it? I’ll keep this simple. If you have a lot of media stored on your PC—namely music, movies, and photos—DLNA makes it possible to stream that stuff to other devices in your house. TVs, Blu-ray players, media boxes, and even smartphones and tablets.

Securing a tablet for web browsing in six easy steps – Taking your tablet online can make you vulnerable to an assortment of internet dangers, including identity theft and hackers. This is especially true if you’re taking advantage of a public hotspot rather than your home network. Follow these simple steps to ensure safe and secure browsing no matter where you are.

Trick Siri into using Google – Tired of Apple Maps sending you on wild-goose chases? Tell Siri you’d rather get directions from Google Maps — no jailbreaking required.

Man who hacked Scarlett Johansson’s email gets a whopping ten years in prison – The crook who cracked into the email of numerous celebrities, including Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis, has been sent to prison. Is there anything the rest of us can learn from this?

Angry Birds Star Wars Lands on Facebook – Rovio released its uber-popular bird-slinging game Angry Birds Star Wars on Facebook, complete with new power-ups, tournaments, and full social integration.

A Tiny Stick for Connected TV – The tiny Roku Stick can turn your HDTV into a connected media hub without taking up any shelf space. Read our review to see how it fares compared with a Roku box.

16 of the most useful cloud management tools – Below is a list of 16 cloud management tools, broken up by category: cost tracking, automation and provisioning, and cloud management platform. This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list, but rather an overview of some of the players.

Tricks to Organize and Share Photos – Knowing a few simple tricks for keeping your photos organized will save you oodles of time and work when you share them online.


Facebook users targeted with bogus Walmart gift card offer – The latest of this scams starts with a message saying “Hey friends, I got a $1000 Gift Card from WALMART as a Christmas Gift! Get it right away! According to Facecrooks, those who follow the link land on a page reiterating the gift card offer and enumerating the steps they have to go through in order to be eligible for the offer.

Instagram says it has right to sell your photos – In its first big policy shift since Facebook bought the photo-sharing site, Instagram claims the right to sell users’ photos without payment or notification. Oh, and there’s no way to opt out.

Phishers lure users in with fake Facebook security app – Unfortunately for those who fall for the “certified by Facebook” sign, the fake Facebook stock certificate image and the “insert confirmation code” trick, the Facebook username and password they submit to the site get sent directly to the scammers.

Cisco VoIP Phone Hacked, Turned into Listening Device – Network-enabled devices such as routers and printers are notoriously insecure and fully exploitable gateways leading attackers toward network resources. A researcher and PhD student at Columbia University recently added VoIP phones to the list of pressing concerns.

Carberp-in-the-Mobile found on Google Play – The CitMo components were packaged as mobile applications from Russian Sberbank and Alfa-Bank, and popular social network VKontakte. Once installed, the CitMo component would work quietly in the background. The researchers spotted the fake apps last Wednesday, informed Google about them, and the company removed then from the market on Thursday.

Ransomware demands survey completion instead of cash – Ransomware has replaced fake AV as the most high-profile and annoying malware targeting computer users around the world, and the approach is always the same: the owners of the blocked computer are urged to pay a fine because of their supposed illegal online behavior or asked to fork over money in order to get their hijacked files decrypted. But the malware peddlers behind one of the latest ransomware attacks have had a novel idea – instead of asking for money, they are urging users to complete a survey in order to get their computer unlocked.

Company News:

Instagram Updates Privacy Policies, Takes Heat for Twitter Talks – Instagram announced an update to its privacy policy and terms of service, which will take effect on Jan. 16, but the company is also under fire for not disclosing details about Twitter acquisition talks.

RIM launches invitation-only BlackBerry 10 evaluation program – RIM today announced the launch of a BlackBerry 10 Technical Preview program for 120 select customers. Organizations participating in the BlackBerry 10 Technical Preview are getting early access to the new BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 enterprise mobility management platform, as well as to a limited number of pre-production BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

Facebook to offer Snapchat-like ‘self-destructing’ message app, says report – The app would be very similar to Snapchat, which enables iPhone and Android users to swap photos privately and set a time frame limiting access to the content. The files are then deleted from the users’ phones and Snapchat’s servers. Among other uses, Snapchat app seems to be very popular with sexters swapping photos. A report from AllThingsD expects a similar Facebook app to surface within weeks.

Nielsen, Twitter Team Up for Social TV Ratings – Nielsen will team up with Twitter to deliver reports that monitor TV-related conversations on the micro-blogging site.

Hulu Plus Tops 3 Million Subscribers – Hulu announced today that it now has more than 3 million paying Hulu Plus customers, a number that has more than doubled since last year.

Webopedia Daily:

HortonWorks – An enterprise software firm that specializes in open source Apache Hadoop development and support. HortonWorks was launched in 2011 by Yahoo and Benchmark Capital, and its flagship product is Hortonworks Data Platform, which is powered by Apache Hadoop. Hortonworks Data Platform is designed as an open source platform that facilitates integrating Apache Hadoop with an enterprise’s existing data architectures. In late 2012, Hortonworks collaborated with Rackspace to provide an OpenStack-based Hadoop offering for the public and private cloud.

Off Topic (Sort of):

NRA’s Facebook page shuttered, Twitter activity halted – It looks like the National Rifle Association is backing away from social media as the U.S. grapples with the Newtown school massacre and gun control.

Cracking the gadget pricing code: Buy now or wait? – Is now the best time to buy a PC, tablet, camera or TV? Will prices hold steady, or are they primed to plummet? Industry experts weigh in.

Dvorak: Android Agitations – Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that Google is keeping Android moving ahead. It’s also nice to know that, as a writer commenting on these products, owning the Google-branded products will keep me ahead of the curve. I’ve run into people operating on an Android 2.x. It’s embarrassing. But my point is that Google is out of control with the changes it is making to the interface and the functionality of its phones.

3,000-year-old murder solved – Egyptologists say they believe they’ve established the truth about the death of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses III 3,000 years ago. And, just as an ancient papyrus suggests, they say, conspirators murdered him by slitting his throat.

Infographic: Just How Big Is – The beauty of is its utterly mass appeal, all packaged in an easy-to-navigate website. But what if the online retailer were actually a brick-and-mortar store?

Phones will soon have five senses, says IBM – IBM has released its annual set of predictions for the next five years – and says it expects computers and smartphones to see, smell, touch, taste and hear.

Today’s Quote:

“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”

–      Rod Serling

Today’s Free Downloads:

You should have Cain & Abel in your security toolbox – There’s a sort of cruel irony to passwords. The legitimate passwords people need to use to access crucial applications or data are often forgotten, and yet the bad guys seem to be able to crack passwords without breaking a sweat. Thankfully, there’s a free tool available that can help you in either of these cases—Cain & Abel.

Vuze – Azureus, now called Vuze, implements the BitTorrent protocol using java language and comes bundled with many invaluable features for both beginners and advanced users.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 17, 2012

10 Android apps to take your smartphone’s camera to the next level – Thanks to apps that enhance your phone’s camera and add powerful portable editing tools, creating and sharing images on the go is easier than ever. In this slideshow, we’ll cover the best Android apps for ambitious mobile photographers.

The Internet’s most controversial websites – Love them or hate them, these 10 sites stir up a lot of debate amongst fans and foes.

Twitter allows users to download archives of their tweets – The move comes amid growing competition in the social media landscape. Facebook has had archiving features available to its members for some time. In April, it expanded its Download Your Information feature to include names you’ve used, friend requests you’ve made and IP addresses you’ve used to access the social network.

Sam’s Club in unintentionally hilarious Twitter exchange – Sometimes when you get a customer complaint on Twitter, it’s best to read it before sending out a standard reply, as Sam’s Club proves.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

ESPN to embed sports instant-replay videos in tweets – The sports network’s college football unit is teaming with Ford and Twitter to bring clips of the college bowl games to a tweet near you.

Many young adults ditch laptops for smartphones – Smartphones are more important to young adults in the U.S. and three other countries than laptops, desktops or tablets, according to a survey of 1800 18- to 30-year-old users in 18 countries.

Zealz GK802 rocks a quad-core processor and $99 price tag – The Android TV PC-on-a-stick market has become quite crowded over the last several months. Muddying the waters even more is the fact that many of the devices share very similar names even though they are sold by different companies. Case in point? The new Zealz GK802 which turned up this past week.

The PC’s past and Intel’s future – Is the desktop PC on the road to oblivion? Well, let’s put it this way: it’s hardly an Intel priority anymore. Yeah, desktops will still be around in 2016, but it’s not something Intel — which makes most PC processors — thinks about a lot. Survival in the age of the big-screen smartphone and tablet is what Intel thinks about.

The 13 worst holiday songs you can download from iTunes – Music plays an important role in any holiday get-together. The right song can put guests in an even more festive mood, make spirits bright, and conjure up warms memories of holidays past. It is safe to say that none of the songs listed below are the right song. No, the baker’s dozen of musical monstrosities below are quite easily the worst possible holiday tunes you could play at your next festive gathering.

The Ultimate Guide to Sharing Your Digital Photos on the Web – PCMag’s massive Digital Photography Super Guide continues. In this latest installment, we examine the best ways to share photos. For person-to-person, email works great as long as the file isn’t too big. When it comes to using social networks and photo sharing services, though, the picture (sorry) gets more complicated. PCMag’s Michael Muchmore has some great advice for better online photo management.

As cash runs out, WikiLeaks sets up new payment system – WikiLeaks supporters have set up a new website to channel donations to the whistle-blowing site, following a long-standing banking blockade.

Write Your Own FAQ: Valve Unveils ‘Game Guides’ Beta – If self-publishing is in your blood, you can now make illustrated game guides directly within Steam itself.

Microsoft’s Consumer Market Share Drops From 95% to 20% in 8 Years – It is a shocking number but it is also somewhat misleading. The statistic includes all computing devices, even tablets and phones. Of course, these devices have proliferated in the last few years, so it is easy to see where Microsoft’s market share went. It isn’t as if the PC market has shrunk, the overall market for computing devices has just outgrown it. That isn’t good news for Microsoft either.


Hackers hit Westboro Baptist Church after Newtown threat – After church leaders announce plans to protest at site of school massacre, Anonymous posts the personal information for dozens of members of the extremist group, including names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers.

Qantas warns of email scam aimed at holiday travelers – Qantas has issued a warning about the seat selection fee receipts scam emails. According to the airline, the emails can easily be spotted as fakes because they include inaccurate amounts paid for selection. They include an attachment which is understood to contain malware.

Suspected security hole found in many Samsung devices – Developer finds vulnerability in Exynos 4-powered devices, including the Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Note, that bypasses system permissions, letting data be extracted from RAM or malicious code be injected.

Recent botnets busted by FBI were lame, but still dangerous – A criminal organization recently busted by law enforcement distributed malware on Facebook using two separate botnets built from tools that are easily found in the hacker underground, a security expert said. The FBI announced last week that ten people had been arrested for allegedly targeting Facebook users with malware designed to steal credit card and bank account numbers.

Company News:

Netflix, RIM, others get boot from key Nasdaq stock index – After Facebook joins the Nasdaq 100, the stock exchange drops EA, Marvell, and VeriSign from its collection of the largest 100 nonfinancial companies trading on the stock exchange.

Google antitrust probe in U.S. may be wrapping up – Google may get a chance to voluntarily change some of its advertising and search practices following a two-year antitrust investigation by U.S. regulators. That’s according to Politico, which said in a report that cited anonymous sources that the probe may be coming to a close.

Google still faces antitrust scrutiny in Europe, officials say – Google is accused of using its search service to direct users to its own services and reducing the visibility of competing websites and services. In November 2011 the Commission extended the case into a full investigation to determine whether Google search results are unfair to rivals.

iPhone 5 sales in China surpass 2 million in first weekend – With millions of people in China snapping up Apple’s latest smartphone, a sales record is set for the Far East country.

Porn bigwig extradited to Germany for tax evasion – The man behind PornHub, YouPorn, and Brazzers was arrested in Belgium and extradited to Germany for allegedly not keeping clean on his taxes.

Webopedia Daily:

Mobile Device Management – MDM – Mobile device management (MDM) is a type of security software used by an IT department to monitor, manage and secure employee’s mobile devices that are deployed across multiple mobile service providers and across multiple mobile operating systems being used in the organization. Mobile device management software is often combined with additional security services and tools to create a complete mobile device and security management solution.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Today in TIME Tech History: Steam vs. Electricity, Artificial Heart, How ‘Television’ Might Catch On and More – Let’s hop in the TIME Wayback Machine to see which notable tech-related stories were published on December 17 between 1923 and today.

Cop charged with buying $15 iPhone — from undercover cop – A sergeant in the NYPD’s Internal Affairs department is caught by a sting operation set up by his fellow officers. Who would have imagined you could get an iPhone for $15?

How to prepare yourself for Friday’s apocalypse – App platform TrackVia has some suggestions to protect your tech before Friday’s end of the world. I have one or two too.

Colbert visits Google, is clueless about Google Play – Interviewed by Eric Schmidt, Colbert is stunned to discover he can buy his own book through the great hydra that is Google.

Today’s Quote:

“The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.”

–      William Hazlitt

Today’s Free Downloads:

HDClone Free Edition 4.2.2 – The Free Edition of HDClone offers all necessary abilities to copy a complete hard disk onto another, larger hard disk. This can be utilized to migrate an existing installation to a new hard disk as well as for data rescue. The Free Edition is real freeware without obligation to buy and is intended for the short-term usage at no cost.

DriveImage XML – DriveImage XML is an easy to use and reliable program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News