Monthly Archives: May 2013

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 31, 2013

When malware strikes: How to clean an infected PC – Against all odds, a clever new Trojan horse slipped through the cracks, and now you’re the unhappy owner of an infected PC. Or perhaps a less-vigilant friend has begged you to clean up a plague-ridden mess. Obviously, you need to scan the computer and remove the malware. Here’s a methodical approach that you can use to determine what the problem is, how to scan, and what to do afterward to protect the PC from future invasions.

New Android Phone? Check Out These 14 Essential Hints and Tips – If you’ve just purchased an Android phone, congratulations. By going Android, you’ve opted for raw functionality over simplicity, for customization over absolute user-friendliness. Android is a powerful platform, but only for those who take full advantage of all its tricks.

Dual-core Sunnycube Android tablet has a $40 price tag – Once upon a time, a $200 price point was thought to be the sweet spot for tablets. But then Hewlett Packard raised the proverbial bar with its $99 WebOS tablet fire sale. Fast forward to June 2013, when Chinese device manufacturer Sunnycube is touting a tablet with yes, a cool $40 price tag (or 249 yuan).

10 Firefox features you should know about – A raft of new features have either been added to Mozilla’s browser or are on the way (showing up in the Beta, Aurora and Nightly builds). Here are the most noteworthy.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 8.1 given first official outing, and yes, the Start button is back – Microsoft has given a first look at Windows 8.1, the free update to Windows 8 that it plans to deliver this autumn. Though it will disappoint some, it should surprise few to learn that Windows 8.1 will not revert all the user interface changes made in Windows 8. Instead, 8.1 will be an incremental update that builds on the Windows 8 interface and its Metro design, but does not replace it.

Hey, Microsoft: It’s the apps, stupid – Microsoft today revealed some of the changes in Windows 8 due to reach customers in a month, but didn’t address what analysts called the biggest barrier to the OS’s success.

Google Search brings nutrition data to more than 1,000 foods – From chow mein to carrots, the Web giant rolls out detailed nutrition information for desktop and mobile search — the feature also works with the new audible question-and-answer interface.

Dropbox goes down for more than an hour – Cloud storage service Dropbox users were hit with a widespread service outage this morning that lasted a little more than an hour. Tweets from outraged users around the world appeared to show the breadth of the service outage.

Consumer cloud services: ‘Security time-bomb’ for enterprises? – As more employees continue to access consumer cloud accounts at work (regardless of IT rules), the enterprise world is about to reach a breaking point, based on a new report. Quite simply, U.K. cloud collaboration company Huddle described the trend as a “security time-bomb.”

Twitter amps up lists feature, lets users create 1,000 lists – Aiming to please those power tweeters, Twitter announced Thursday that it’s expanding its list feature. Now users can make up to 1,000 lists that can each include 5,000 accounts. This is a significant increase. Before today people could only have 20 lists, each with up to 500 accounts.

Harvard dean who authorized secret search of faculty email to step down – The Harvard University dean who approved a secret search of faculty email to track down a media leak about student cheating will step down on July 1, the dean announced on Tuesday.

Woe is Linux. Woe is Me – Ubuntu’s maker says Linux will never achieve the goal of overtaking Windows. This because computers—and users—are dumber than ever.

Security:

Dell on cyber security: You’re screwed – We know that viruses are running around on most PCs which either don’t have or haven’t updated their Anti-Virus software even though Microsoft now provides a basic product for free. Most company security efforts aren’t integrated and the majority of security breaches aren’t reported – so the sheer size of this problem really isn’t known yet. However, what is reported definitely has most security experts scared half to death.

Android malware in pictures – a blow-by-blow account of mobile scareware – Fake anti-virus is mostly for Windows, with OS X a long way back in second place. But other operating systems aren’t exempt from the depredations of cybercriminals. Paul Ducklin shows you round some recently-discovered Android scareware.

Google pressures industry to make software flaws public faster – Google threw the gauntlet down before the software industry to clean up its mistakes faster than has been done in the past. Critical vulnerabilities in software programs being actively exploited by hackers should be made public seven days after a software vendor is made aware of the flaw by whomever discovered it, the company advocated in a blog posted Wednesday by Google security engineers Chris Evans and Drew Hintz.

Mt. Gox adds account verification requirement for non-Bitcoin currencies – Bitcoin is growing in popularity as a way to make financial transactions in a wonderfully anonymous way. The obvious downside to such a reality is the same thing that ultimately took down Liberty Reserve earlier this week – criminal activities. To help cover itself in the face of such activities, Mt. Gox announced earlier today that users who wish to both deposit and withdraw money in a currency that isn’t Bitcoin will need account verification.

Carna botnet analysis renders scary numbers on vulnerable devices – An analysis of the data rendered by the Carna botnet reveals a shocking number of vulnerable devices reachable online with default credentials.

Company News:

Acer $400 ‘PC’ will run Android, pack Intel’s Haswell chip – Acer is about to announce a PC that runs Android, showing that Windows and PC will not necessarily be synonymous in the coming months.

Gartner security survey: McAfee up, Trend Micro down – A Gartner report about the security software market out Thursday shows that No. 2 ranked McAfee enjoyed the most overall growth last year, Trend Micro slipped but stayed No. 3, and Symantec held onto its top spot with 19.6% of the $19.1 billion market. Gartner’s report looked at 12 market segments that included endpoint security products for both the enterprise and consumer markets:

Amazon Joins Authentication Game – As attackers continue to target large databases of passwords and users grow wearier by the day of creating new accounts and login credentials on each site they visit, the larger Web players are positioning themselves as not just social networking or retail hubs, but also as authentication providers. The latest to join this crew is Amazon, which is rolling out a service called Login With Amazon that enables visitors to participating sites to login with their existing Amazon credentials.

HTC reportedly scraps 12″ Windows RT tablet plans (but 7″ still on the way) – HTC has reportedly axed plans to launch a 12-inch tablet running Windows RT, sources claim, after deciding demand for the slate would be insufficient, though a smaller version is still said to be on the roadmap. The unnamed 12-inch tablet was sidelined over fears that it would be too expensive, Bloomberg reports, with the components required adding up to too great a bill-of-materials to allow a competitive street price.

Roku looks outside the box as funds are pushed towards TV integration – Roku is a high-selling little set top box that brings a variety of content platforms, such as Netflix and Vudu, to its users’ televisions, giving them smart TV-like functionality sans actually being a smart TV. On April 10, Roku announced that it had sold 5 million players, and now the company’s CEO has spoken with The Hollywood Reporter, sharing his vision of the company’s future.

Webopedia Daily:

Subscriber identity module – A subscriber identity module (SIM) is a smart card inside of a GSM cellular phone that encrypts voice and data transmissions and stores data about the specific user so that the user can be identified and authenticated to the network supplying the phone service. The SIM also stores data such as personal phone settings specific to the user and phone numbers. A SIM can be moved from one phone to another and/or different SIMs can be inserted into any GSM phone. For example, if a user has one phone but uses it for both personal and business calls, he can change the SIM depending on how he will be using the phone (one card contains his personal identity and data and the second card carries his business identity and data).

Games and Entertainment:

Sony CEO on PlayStation 4: Gamers come first – Unlike Microsoft’s Xbox One pitch as a device for all, Sony’s Kazuo Hirai tells the D11 crowd that the PS4 will be first and foremost a gamers’ console.

Xbox One should accelerate development of learning robots – Ashutosh Saxena bought an Xbox to play computer games at home, but discovered that the Kinect motion-detection technology it includes provides a rich tool for his robotics lab where he’s trying to create robots that learn what humans are up to and try to help out.

EA dumps Online Pass system for used games after player vitriol – EA has begun eliminating its little-loved Online Pass program, the scheme which meant those playing second-hand games would need to pay separately for online access, with no new titles requiring the system and older titles being updated to remove it. The controversial scheme was initially introduced as a way for EA to monetize used games sales, with the Online Pass included in the original box but only being valid for a single account.

‘Arrested Development’ a bust? Netflix says come on! – The mixed critical response to ‘Arrested Development’ trips up Netflix’s ambitions for buzz-worthy original programming, but it certainly isn’t slowing down the company.

PlayStation 4 game Killzone: Shadow Fall play-while-downloading details revealed – It’s no secret that PlayStation 4 games will be playable while they are still downloading, a bit of information Sony had let out not too long ago. Not much was given about the feature in terms of how it would work, and how much content users would have to pull down before they could begin playing. Now details have been revealed about the feature as it applies to the game Killzone: Shadow Fall, giving us a glimpse at how it works.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Ex-Microsoft exec to create the Starbucks of marijuana? – Jamen Shively, a former corporate strategy manager for Redmond, decides he can have a happier life: creating a brand of pot for the good people of Washington state and beyond.

U.S. lifts ban on computer exports to people in Iran – Easing of sanctions will allow U.S. residents to export communications equipment to individuals but not to the Iranian government. The U.S. government is easing sanctions that have for more than two decades prohibited companies from selling electronic devices such as computers, cell phones, and wireless routers to Iran.

The PC’s future has never been brighter—because tablets are PCs too – The rise of tablets and every hybrid in between proves that PCs are evolving, not dying. (A sensible, non-hysterical overview.)

Concept Coke can splits in two for sharing – If sharing fluids strikes you as icky, Coca-Cola’s shareable can may be just the thing. A simple twist and the 330-milliliter can splits in half, one for you and one for a friend. Ideally, you should only do this with one buddy, as the can doesn’t multiply any further.

Feds Release Guidelines for Self-Driving Cars – U.S. transportation officials today released early guidelines for the development of self-driving cars, including recommendations for lawmakers who are writing laws governing the technology.

Today’s Quote:

The truth is not important…what people believe to be true is important”

–       Unknown

Today’s Free Downloads:

Emsisoft Emergency Kit 3.0.0.6 – The Emsisoft Emergency Kit contains a collection of programs that can be used without a software installation to scan and clean infected computers for malware.

Artweaver Free 3.1.5 – Artweaver lets you paint creatively with the help of a huge range of painting tools. You can create sketches from photos or just experiment with colors.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 30, 2013

Mini-documentary shines a light on the surveillance state – Naked Citizens does not deal in hypotheticals, this is a film concerned with what’s actually happening, today. The documentary shows how there is a capacity to do certain tasks, not all of them good, with the sheer volume of surveillance footage being produced in today’s London. As you can imagine, much of it is startling to see.

Learn Windows 8 basics with Microsoft’s ‘training brochure’ – This is a genuinely helpful guide for Windows 8 newcomers, and I can’t help wondering why it’s not bundled with the operating system, a live tile that appears front and center when you first start your PC. Maybe (hopefully) Microsoft plans to include it in Blue (a.k.a. Windows 8.1). Thankfully, you don’t have to wait.

Boot-to-Desktop and Start Button Coming to Windows 8 – When it comes to Windows sources, Paul Thurrott is about as solid as they get. On his SuperSite for Windows, Thurrott has just confirmed that the next big update to Windows 8 — known as Windows 8.1 or “Blue” — will contain two major features that users have been asking for.

Send self-destructing messages from your work computer – How do you send personal or silly messages while sitting at your work computer? A new browser app offers Snapchat-like “off the record” messaging.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Facebook backlash sees small businesses following suit – The self-loathing Facebook user seems to be an incredibly popular phenomenon, and anecdotally it looks like it’s spilling over to business users, too. I checked in with several small business owners and found that concerns over Facebook range include difficulties reaching disinterested users, problems with phony user profiles, negative and hateful comments, and simply trying to stand out in what has become a mammoth wall of noise.

Facebookers, beware: That silly update can cost you a job – Study shows that companies have rejected 1 in 10 people between ages 16 and 34 because of something the person shared on social media.

Use Google Now to send text, e-mail – Similarly to how you’d use Siri, you can give a voice command to Google Now and it will create an e-mail or text message, complete with the recipient of your choosing from your contacts.

Review: Open Drive turns cloud storage services into one big file sharing network – If you are looking for a document or a template, you would normally Google for it. But a lot of people keep these things on their cloud storage services, and are willing to share. Open Drive indexes them…

Review: Boxcryptor encrypts data in the cloud – You may be too concerned about privacy and security to leave naked files lying around on a remote server. That’s completely fair, but don’t let it keep you from using the cloud. Boxcryptor is a free Windows desktop app that creates an encrypted folder that can be placed inside your cloud storage folder.

What I learned using only Google products – Here are 10 shocking things I learned using only a Chromebook Pixel, Nexus 10, Nexus 4 and all-Google software and services.

3 reasons why tablets thrive while PCs dive – As the PC market slumps and the tablet market grows, it might seem obvious to tablet users why that’s so. However, details shared by analysts dramatically highlight three reasons behind robust tablet growth.

Smashed? Self-breathalyzer uses cops’ sensors for accuracy – Are you too drunk to drive? The Floome device plugs into your smartphone to tell you if you’ve had too much and how long you need to wait to get behind the wheel.

Security:

Drupal.org resets login credentials after hack exposes password data – Passwords for almost 1 million accounts affected after malicious files are found. The hack exposed usernames, e-mail addresses, country information, and cryptographically hashed passwords, although investigators may discover additional types of information were compromised.

Hacker accused of massive Stratfor attack pleads guilty – The Anonymous hacker busted for allegedly stealing data from the U.S. Army, Lockheed Martin, Bank of America, and more admits to nabbing confidential information and breaking the law.

Music playing 55 feet away could covertly activate Android mobile malware – We’ve all heard of subliminal messages hidden in advertisements, but most of us have not thought about “subliminal” messages to trigger malware that was dormant until it is set off by sounds from a TV, radio, music, P2P TV, or even musical greeting cards. Besides successfully using audio as a mode of transport, the researchers also used light, magnets and vibration as other trippy malware triggers.

Private retaliation in cyberspace a ‘remarkably bad idea’ – Despite the growing threat of state-sponsored cyberattacks launched from China and other countries, U.S companies should not be allowed fight back on their own, security experts say. Such corporate counterstrikes would undermine U.S.-led efforts to develop international cyberspace standards and norms while exposing American companies to retaliatory strikes.

Company News:

Apple reportedly taps Pegatron to make new low-cost iPhone – Pegatron, which already makes some iPhones and iPad Minis, has been chosen to be the primary assembler of a low-cost iPhone expected to be unveiled later this year, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Despite Apple’s longtime business relationship with Foxconn, CEO Tim Cook wants to achieve greater balance in the company’s supply chain by shifting more work to Pegatron, the Journal reported.

Xbox One exclusives getting $1 billion investment from Microsoft – One thing’s for sure with the Xbox One: Microsoft is spending a lot of money on it. We previously heard that the deal with AMD for the Xbox One’s processor was said to be upwards of $3 billion. Now, it’s reported that Microsoft is spending $1 billion to finance in-house games, and also to secure exclusive titles for the new console.

Facebook to take a stand against rape jokes, gender hate speech – Facebook has announced plans to renew its effort toward monitoring, and where appropriate, removing gender-related hate speech from its users, per a post on the company’s Facebook Safety page Tuesday.

Aereo: A startup making exactly the right move with TV is driving FOX and CBS crazy – Aereo, a service that streams over-the-air channels to its subscribers, has now spent more than a year serving residents of New York City. The service officially expands to Boston tomorrow and is coming to many more cities over the next few months, including Atlanta and Washington, DC. Aereo seems like a net-add for consumers, and the opposition has, so far, failed to mount a defense that sticks.

Webopedia Daily:

The Difference Between a Cell Phone, Smartphone and PDA – Once again technological advancements make common terminology such as mobile phone, smartphone, PDA and PDA phone difficult to decipher as each type of device changes constantly and features traditionally belonging to one type of device are now found on others. Here we will explore the popular category of mobile communication devices, the similarities and differences between some of the popular products.

Games and Entertainment:

YouTube Launches Slow Motion Video Tool – Everything is better in slow motion: Runners on the beach, futuristic gun fights, the sun rising over Earth. And now, your own YouTube videos. The video-sharing site on Tuesday revealed its new feature — a minor function that will surely become a major viral hit.

Fans choose new Amazon streaming shows; focus is on politicians and nerds – A little more than a month ago, Amazon rolled out 14 TV show pilots for its Amazon Prime members to vote on, with the winners getting the chance to grow into real series. Wednesday, the company announced the fan favorites, comprised of two adult comedies and three kid shows.

Is the Xbox One always online? – Is the Xbox One always online, or not? You’d think it would be easy question to answer, but for some reason Microsoft continues to be very coy about the matter.

Microsoft, GlacierWorks Team for ‘Everest: Rivers of Ice’ Site – Nature lovers can journey to the summit of the majestic Mt. Everest right from the comfort of home thanks to a new, interactive HTML5 site called Everest: Rivers of Ice. The site went live today to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first successful Everest summit, made by New Zealand adventurer Sir Edmund Hillary.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Yes, Of Course There Will Be Google Glass Porn – Rule of thumb: where there’s innovation, there’s porn. Actually, flip that around: where there’s porn, there’s innovation. And while the porn industry can’t be held directly responsible for paving the way for innovation such as Google Glass, it’s surely going to get in on the action.

Dvorak: Life in the Post-PC Era – Within a decade, those of us who still use a real PC will be like those guys with a lot of woodworking gear in their garage. Those folks, who can build an entire house by hand, are somewhat revered for their ability to properly use all the tools. In ten years when someone looks at your computer and says, “Wow, neat! What do you use that for?” then you’ll know it’s all over.

Bf 109 pilot Franz Stigler and B-17 pilot Charlie Brown’s first meeting  (video 6:50) – This film was taken when Bf-109 ace Franz Stigler met B-17 pilot Charlie Brown for the first time since their encounter during WWII! (recommended by Michael F.)

Arduino’s first robotics kit is here, and it’s a seriously mean open-source machine – The completely open-source robot is the result of a collaboration between Arduino and Complubot, the four-time world champions in the Robocup Junior robot soccer tournament. Physically, the robot measures about 7.5 inches in diameter and is roughly 4 inches tall. It’s comprised of two stacked Arduino boards on wheels. Each of the boards comes equipped with a 16MHz processor as well as 32KB of flash memory.

Scientists poke frozen mammoth, liquid blood squirts out – The 10,000-year-old beast was found on one of the Lyakhovsky Islands in the Novosibirsk archipelago off the northern coast of Siberia. Researchers from the Northeastern Federal University in Yakutsk poked the remains with an ice pick and, incredibly, blood flowed out.

Chinese man builds his own bionic arms, helps hundreds by selling more – After creating his own pair of arms Sun started building others. Selling functional prosthetic arms for under $500, he saves people from buying the poor quality ones he was forced to use and helps those who are unable to afford professionally-made ones which can cost up to ten times the price. To date Sun has sold around 1000 arms, which means he’s been able to help hundreds of people rebuild their lives after a catastrophe.

PayPal founder takes on the fertility industry with Glow – “Having babies is a moral imperative for the human race. What’s been missing for people who can’t is data and financial arbitrage,” says Glow founder Max Levchin.

Today’s Quote:

Don’t you wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There’s one marked ‘Brightness,’ but it doesn’t work.”

–      Gallagher

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ashampoo Burning Studio Free – Ashampoo Burning Studio Free focuses on what you want: burn discs quickly, easily, with maximum quality and minimum hassle.

Comodo Dragon 27.0.4.0 – A Chromium technology-based Browser that offers you all of Chrome’s features PLUS the unparalleled level of security and privacy you only get from Comodo.

XnView Extended 2.03 – XnView is a handy utility for converting and viewing your graphics files. All plug-ins and languages included.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 29, 2013

Here, there, everywhere: 3 personal cloud storage systems – Cloud storage services like Dropbox or Box are useful, but they can become costly — and who is controlling your data? One of these three personal cloud storage systems could be your alternative.

The Best Places to Find Free Music Online – You can find almost any song you can think of online and download it for free. If you want to do it legally, it’s a little tougher – but not impossible (in many cases). We rounded up a list of places to look if you want to score a free song but don’t want to break the law.

How to Hack Twitter’s Two-Factor Authentication – We’ve pointed out some problems with Twitter’s new two-factor authentication. However, security experts indicate that the problem is worse than that, a lot worse.

Social media privacy explained – In plain English – Researchers at Canada’s University of Victoria have published a website, CATSMI, that provides information on more than 20 social networks privacy policies and what they mean to you.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Hisense Sero Tablet Breaks the $100 Barrier, Beware the Battery – It never ceases to be surprising when the price of tablets drops to new lows. Take Hisense’s Sero 7 LT tablet, for example. The 7-in. (17.8 cm) Android tablet is on sale now through Walmart for a mere $99, undercutting bargain-tablet front runners like the Amazon Kindle Fire ($159), Barnes & Noble Nook HD ($199), Google Nexus 7 ($199) and HP Slate 7 ($170).

New vending machine aims to democratize 3D printing – Instead of making you pick from a selection of items, this new vending machine lets you create what you want by 3D printing custom-ordered objects.

Tablets to Top Laptops This Year, All PCs in 2015 – It’s long been said that tablets will at some point become more popular than laptops, but according to a new forecast from IDC, that shift is poised to occur this year.

Chinese Cyber Espionage: Don’t Believe the Hype – Within a day of each other, the Washington Post published a shocking list of U.S. defense programs whose designs have reportedly been stolen by Chinese cyberattacks and ABC news said the plans for Australia’s spy headquarters were also stolen by Chinese hackers. It makes China sound like a secret-sucking cyber espionage machine, but is that really the case?

Dislike Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscriptions? Tough beans – Adobe will adjust its subscription plans to appeal better to photo hobbyists, but it won’t restore what many critics want — an option to buy perpetual licenses to new versions of its software.

Unprecedented e-mail privacy bill sent to Texas governor’s desk – Assuming that Texas Governor Rick Perry does not veto it, the Lone Star State appears set to enact the nation’s strongest e-mail privacy bill. The proposed legislation requires state law enforcement agencies to get a warrant for all e-mails regardless of the age of the e-mail.

The Big Bad Kinect Will Not Spy on You – I’m incredibly leery when it comes to snooping devices in the house. In fact, I put small pieces of gaffer’s tape over the gratuitous cameras on laptops and monitors. Who needs some stealth program snooping on you or listening in? But the fears that have sprouted up around the new Kinect on the Xbox One are just ludicrous, not because they are impossible but because they are impractical and mostly idiotic. Here are the top four bogus notions I’ve heard over the past week

Best Linux distributions for enterprise computing needs – There are a lot of Linux distributions out there. Out of those hundreds of variations, which are best suited for enterprise-level servers and desktops?

Security:

Five steps to ultimate Firefox security – Follow these five steps to lock down Firefox. Start with the essentials in the browser’s own settings, then choose some useful add-ons. Finally, keep track of your plug-ins so you can patch the inevitable security holes.

Block rogue apps with Windows Server — for free – Windows in some organizations is a free-for-all — users have local administrator rights, install software to their hearts’ content, never update it and generally are susceptible to running bad stuff on good machines. Fortunately for Windows administrators, there is a way to stop that.

Malware-splosion: 2013 Will be Malware’s Biggest Year Ever – According to the German security company AV-Test, malware has exploded in the past five years to unprecedented levels. More troublingly, they anticipate seeing over 60 million new pieces of malicious software by the end of the year.

Sprint, SoftBank reportedly reach security deal with U.S. – The tentative agreement includes a security committee at the company should the merger go through and gives the U.S. government veto power over equipment purchases, sources tell The Wall Street Journal.

Critical Ruby on Rails bug exploited in wild, hacked servers join botnet – Attackers’ success shows many servers still aren’t patched. Is yours?

Phishers try flattery with Facebook Page owners – Beware, fanboys and fangirls: phishers are targeting Facebook Page owners with a bogus message supposedly sent from Facebook Security. According to Hoax-Slayer, the scam claims that Facebook is rolling out a new security feature to protect Page owners. This supposed new security feature is dubbed the “Fan Page Verification Program”.

Anatomy of a change – Google announces it will double its SSL key sizes – Google just announced that its secure web pages will be ditching 1024-bit RSA keys in favour of 2048 bits. We look at the lessons to be learned from whats, the whys and the wherefores of this change.

Company News:

Mozilla, Foxconn Teaming Up, Reportedly for Firefox OS Tablet – Mozilla and Foxconn will hold a joint press event in Taipei next Monday, where the firms are rumored to be unveiling a new Firefox OS mobile gadget. Reports about a device from Mozilla and Foxconn (also known as Hon Hai) first emerged this morning in a report from Reuters. The news service said the firms are prepping a Firefox OS-based gadget that will reportedly be a tablet, according to Focus Taiwan.

WordPress Celebrates 10 Years of Blogging – It may be hard to remember, but there was a time before Tumblr, memes, GIFs, and mainstream blogging — back when a LiveJournal account was all it took to earn a seat at the cool-kids table. But that was 2003, when WordPress was the new kid on the block, and iTunes songs still cost only 99 cents. Ten years later, WordPress this week celebrates a decade of blogging with a look at the past and a peak into the future.

Apple settles iPhone water damage lawsuit for $53M – Class-action lawsuit claimed that owners of the early versions of the iPhone and iPod Touch were unfairly denied warranty coverage.

Facebook crafts new policies to better combat hate speech – Facebook is admitting that it can do a better job in removing certain types of hate speech on the site, and is introducing some new policies to improve its track record. The changes also come amid concerns voiced by groups like Women, Action and the Media and the Everyday Sexism Project about hateful and violent content targeting women appearing on Facebook.

Twitter triumphs in spam lawsuit settlement – In its fight to deter spammers, the social network gets tool provider TweetAdder to agree to a strict settlement regarding Twitter’s terms of service.

Webopedia Daily:

DNS – Short for Domain Name System (or Service or Server), an Internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. Because domain names are alphabetic, they’re easier to remember. The Internet however, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, therefore, a DNS service must translate the name into the corresponding IP address. For example, the domain name http://www.example.com might translate to 198.105.232.4. The DNS system is, in fact, its own network. If one DNS server doesn’t know how to translate a particular domain name, it asks another one, and so on, until the correct IP address is returned.

Games and Entertainment:

Chrome experiment ‘Roll It’ turns your browsers into multiplayer Skee Ball – There are some games that just don’t translate to the digital world very well. Until today, Skee Ball was one of them. Google decided that needed to be fixed, and the new Chrome Experiment, Roll It, is the remedy.

‘Mine of Steel’ expertly puts the new Superman movie in Minecraft form – There are claymation films and stop motions films, but have you ever seriously considered watching a movie rendered in Minecraft‘s iconic blocky designs? What if that movie was the upcoming Man of Steel?

Blizzard reboots Titan next-gen MMO: Reportedly reassigns 70% of team – Bizzard Entertainment has been teasing us about its next-gen MMO, codenamed Titan, since 2007, but a decision to reset the game’s development means we’ll have to wait even longer to play it: potentially 2016 at the very earliest

After 13 years, a new Final Fantasy 9 side quest has been discovered – For such a highly acclaimed piece of playable media released 13 years ago, you’d think players would have found everything hidden across the game’s four discs by now. YouTube user GarlandTheGreat proved that notion wrong, and showed us all that the game still has full-blown side quests hidden beneath the well-crafted story.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Microsoft says social tools help foster productivity, but many disagree – New research released by Microsoft on Tuesday dives into raging debate of whether social tools like Twitter, Microsoft Lync, and Facebook belong in the business realm. Do they enable employees to become more productive, or are they distractions that should be limited in the workplace? The answer, it seems, depends on what country you work in.

IE piggybacks on Everest celebration to showcase new browser tech – Renowned Everest explorer David Breashears teams with Microsoft Internet Explorer to create an immersive site that takes you as close to the tallest mountain in the world as possible without actually being there.

Structure-Aware Hair Capture (video 3:45) – Existing hair capture systems fail to produce strands that reflect the structures of real-world hairstyles. We introduce a system that reconstructs coherent and plausible wisps aware of the underlying hair structures from a set of still images without any special lighting. We show reconstruction results for a variety of complex hairstyles including curly, wispy, and messy hair. (recommended by Michael F.)

PayPal denies teenager reward for finding website bug – A 17-year-old German student contends PayPal has denied him a reward for finding a vulnerability in its website. Robert Kugler said he notified PayPal of the vulnerability on May 19. He said he was informed by email that because he is under 18 years old, he did not qualify for its Bug Bounty Program. He will turn 18 next March.

Cheers! PR2 robot knows where to pour your beer – You know summer’s around the corner when robots are helping you grab a cold one. Now, an anticipatory algorithm is helping them refill your glass when you’re ready for another round.

Researchers capture image of hydrogen atom’s electron orbital for first time – An international team of researchers has managed for the first time to visualize the electron orbital of a hydrogen atom. The image was acquired with a revolutionary new instrument called a quantum microscope, which allows scientists to push the limits of quantum states and observe what was once only theory. It almost goes without saying this is a huge deal.

Today’s Quote:

The one thing more difficult than following a regimen is not imposing it on others.”

–    Marcel Proust

Today’s Free Downloads:

Shrink photos and clear up some hard drive space with JPEGmini – JPEGmini can help you shrink popular JPEG images to almost a fifth of their original size, potentially clearing up to 80 percent of hard drive space.

Skitch for Windows – Skitch is a free app that helps you communicate visually with friends, co-workers, and the world. Annotate images with arrows, shapes, and text. Use Skitch to sketch something new, mark up maps, screen captures, or even a photo. Then save or share your Skitch annotation to help others see and understand your ideas.

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.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 28, 2013

Best free stuff, 2013 edition – The Internet is full of free stuff. We’ve spent countless hours culling the jewels from the junk to craft our 18th annual roundup of free stuff, a virtual smorgasbord of the very best no-cost programs, apps, and services available online. To make your life easier, we’ve categorized the entries by the types of people they’ll help most. Dig in. You’re sure to find something unexpectedly awesome.

Privately share a video that only a select few can watch – Streaming video is the obvious and easy way to share home movies, but sometimes you need to control who can jump into that stream. You may want everyone in the world to enjoy your cat videos, but humans often object when their drunken dancing turns up all over the Internet. I’ll give you privacy control settings for three free and popular streaming services.

Proposal seeks to lock copyright infringing computers, force owners to contact police – The Internet-using public is no stranger to off-the-wall plans and ideas to stop the so-called blight of copyrighted content sharing, but a new proposal recently submitted to the government is perhaps unlike any before it in terms of craziness. In a report, the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property proposed many ways piracy can be combated, including infecting alleged violators’ computers with malware that can wreck havoc, including and up to destroying the user’s computer.

Cops want 3D gun banned – While the US is scratching its head about what to do about 3D printed guns finding their way into the hands of criminals and right-wing nutjobs, the Australian cops want them banned. According to Gizmodo, the New South Wales Police Force downloaded the 3D printable weapon known as The Liberator to print for themselves, and it scared the billabongs out of them. According to the Police Commissioner: “they are truly undetectable, truly untraceable, cheap, easy to make”. They have the potential to turn Australia into the Wild West.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to use Google Voice with two-step authentication – There’s one important detail you have to know should you want to use your Google Voice number with a two-step authentication service.

Five apps to help secure Thunderbird – If you’re looking for some added security for Thunderbird, you might want to look into the various available extensions.

Zorin OS 7: This may be the Linux distro you’re looking for – Ubuntu-based Zorin OS has always been a particularly compelling choice for those making the transition to Linux from Windows, but updates in this new version promise to make it more attractive than ever. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights.

Google to Migrate Your Buzz Data to Google Drive – The ill-fated Buzz service is a goner, and any remaining data is moving to Drive.

Now You Can Find Google+ Photos Through Main Search Bar – Google this week announced that you can now search for photos that have been uploaded to Google+ through the main Google Search bar.

Essential photo composition tips and tricks – Composing a compelling photo can be a challenging artistic endeavor; after all, what looks great in real life can be flat and uninspired when captured as a photo. It’s not enough just to capture what you see with your eyes; you need to reinterpret the scene for the medium that we used to call film. Thankfully, photographers have had almost two centuries to codify successful compositional techniques into a set of rules.

Security:

Malware in the Google Play Store: Enemy inside the gates – Google Play has experienced some recent malware infestations. Learn about the details and how to protect yourself and your users.

How to Hack Twitter’s Two-Factor Authentication – Experts say Twitter’s two-factor authentication won’t stop hackers. Worse, hackers could well take over your account’s two-factor authentication and thereby lock you out

Anatomy of a hack: How crackers ransack passwords like “qeadzcwrsfxv1331” – In March, readers followed along as Nate Anderson, Ars deputy editor and a self-admitted newbie to password cracking, downloaded a list of more than 16,000 cryptographically hashed passcodes. Within a few hours, he deciphered almost half of them. The moral of the story: if a reporter with zero training in the ancient art of password cracking can achieve such results, imagine what more seasoned attackers can do.

Chromium browser gets new reset options for easier recovery from malware – Chromium’s new features prevent the need to raze everything to the ground if Bad Things Happen to a single aspect of your browser. For example, if a rogue Gmail extension borks your browser, you’ll be able to reset just your extensions and leave your homepage and content settings alone. Plus, Chromium’s profile settings bring all the default restoration options together in a single, easy-to-find menu. Win-win!

Chinese hackers reportedly accessed U.S. weapons designs – More than two dozen advanced weapons systems were accessed, although documents obtained by The Washington Post do not indicate whether the breaches occurred on government or contractor networks.

Company News:

Google eyes wind power with Makani acquisition – The prospects for high-altitude wind technology are looking a little more buoyant with the revelation that Makani Power has been acquired by Google[x], the semi-secret Google lab that’s dabbled in wacky stuff like driverless cars and wired eyeglasses.

Liberty Reserve shuts down; founder arrested in Spain – Digital currency Liberty Reserve was shut down last Thursday after founder Arthur Budovsky Belanchuk was arrested in Spain as part of a money laundering investigation between law enforcement agencies in the US and Costa Rica involving suspicions that Budovsky was involved in money laundering using numerous shell companies that were created to operate Liberty Reserve. (suggested by Michael F.)

Apple under European investigation over iPhone, iPad sales tactics and 4G restrictions – Europe is quizzing mobile operators about Apple’s distribution methods for its mobile hardware.

Demand more transparency from us and vendors: Huawei – The company that bills itself as the most probed and audited has said that others should be subject to the same security checks, as users can’t be sure what they’re getting.

Changing tax laws won’t bring in ‘big cheques’: Gates – Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has welcomed reviews of taxation laws to close loopholes for multinationals, but he has warned that it won’t bring in “big cheques” to government coffers.

Webopedia Daily:

RAID – redundant array of independent disks – RAID is short for redundant array of independent (or inexpensive) disks. It is a category of disk drives that employ two or more drives in combination for fault tolerance and performance. RAID disk drives are used frequently on servers but aren’t generally necessary for personal computers. RAID allows you to store the same data redundantly (in multiple paces) in a balanced way to improve overall storage performance.

Games and Entertainment:

Scrolls, the second game from Minecraft creator Mojang, gears up open beta on June 3 – When your studio’s very first game is Minecraft, the monumentally successful indie classic that went on to sell millions and inspire extreme devotion in gamers around the globe, what could you possibly follow up with? For Mojang, the answer is Scrolls, a game that ditches Minecraft’s 8-bit world building in favor of cartoonish, Magic: The Gathering-esque collectable card slinging.

Zombies!!! – The dead are a problem. Whether they are the walking or evil varieties, their predilection for eating flesh is proving to be a problem for those who prefer to keep their organs intact. That’s the basis for Zombies!!!, a new game of post-apocalyptic survival from Babaroga. It’s based on a popular board game from Twilight Creations in which players compete to escape from a town infested with brain-biters.

4 Ways Minecraft Hasn’t Actually Changed Gaming – Four years after Minecraft’s alpha launch, its impact on the rest of the gaming world has ranged from immeasurable to insignificant. That’s no knock against Minecraft. If anything, it’s a testament to how unique the game actually is. Rather than pretend Minecraft has been an industry-changing force, let’s instead count the ways in which Minecraft was an anomaly whose successes won’t be so easily duplicated:

Pixel art all around us – Pixel art is all around us. It may have been popularized by computer graphics and, more specifically, video games, but it’s much, much more than that.

Off Topic (Sort of):

German rail network to fight graffiti with drones – Deutsche Bahn wants to deploy silent drones to thwart vandalism to its trains and property, which cost the operator nearly $10 million last year.

If everything fades into the background, you may have a high IQ – Ignoring a specific visual distractor correlates with IQ scores. So, if you forget to notice something like your significant other’s new haircut, can you safely conclude that it’s ok because it just means you’ve got a high IQ? Maybe. These are just general tendencies and there’s lots of variability among individuals, even if they collectively show a clear trend. And that’s without even getting into the value of the aspect of intelligence measured by the IQ score.

Teachers searching for cell phone strip-search students – A Canadian school board admits that staff at at high school went too far in ordering 28 students to remove their clothes, as one was suspected of having a cell phone in a math exam. (Sexual assault charges should be laid immediately.)

A high school student just built a submarine that really dives underwater – The West Morris Mendham High School student built a nine-foot-long, 1300-pound submarine dubbed the Nautilus. This underwater vessel, fashioned mostly out of lightweight corrugated plastic tubes typically used in drainage pipes, doesn’t just look the like a submarine; Justin says it can dive to depths of 30 feet.

Google Maps rolls out bike routes in six European countries – Adding Germany, France, Poland, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein to the mix, the Web giant boosts mapping data for cyclists.

Today’s Quote:

There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob.”

–     G. K. Chesterton

Today’s Free Downloads:

Free File Wiper 1.62 – Delete files securely with this software. Just drag & drop directories and files on the trashcan and the software will erase them completely!

Cain and Abel 4.9.46 – Allows easy recovery of various kind of passwords by sniffing the network, cracking encrypted passwords and more.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 27, 2013

Google’s Schmidt: Teens’ mistakes will never go away – Speaking at a festival in the U.K., Google’s executive chairman offers that the things teens do now will stay with them forever, by way of the Web. He also suggested some people are sharing too much online.

A victim of the Nigerian phishing scam tells her tale – Feelings of shame and despair at being conned out of $300,000 by a convincing Nigerian-based email scam led Queensland interior decorator Jill Ambrose to attempt suicide twice. She survived and is now on a crusade to tell her story so that others are not taken in by the scammers.

Why DOJ didn’t need a ‘super search warrant’ to snoop on Fox News’ e-mail – Vagaries of federal surveillance law, enacted in 1968 and updated in 1986, favor lots of e-mail snooping over only a little.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Internet of Things: What you need to know – The Internet of Things is all about sensors that can connect lots of formerly-mundane objects to the Internet and automatically send their data to IT systems for analysis. To help you get up to speed on what M2M is, why it’s important, and how it can potentially help your organization, TechRepublic and ZDNet have collaborated to create a special feature on the Internet of Things. We’ve drawn on expertise from the four regions where we have teams of journalists: the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Asia.

Does Bible Belt love porn as much as the godless do? – Figures provided by popular site PornHub suggest that those who live in allegedly more religious communities enjoy as much online release as the allegedly godless.

My car, my office: Essential gadgets for road warriors – How to stay productive when you spend more time behind a steering wheel than a desk. Allow us to show you how to remain a useful member of the information age even when your workdays can take you on trips of dozens or hundreds of miles.

Sorry, but bringing back the Start menu won’t help Windows 8 – There are plenty of legitimate concerns about the Windows 8 interface. But if you think the removal of the Start menu is the root cause of those problems, you’re mistaken. See for yourself.

Mint 15: Today’s best Linux desktop (Review) – Summary: Mint isn’t just an outstanding Linux desktop, it’s the best new desktop operating system of any kind available now.

How to migrate to Gmail – Are you still hanging onto that old AOL e-mail account, or worse, the e-mail account your ISP handed you? If so, it might be time for you to consider switching to a Web-based e-mail service like Gmail.

Even new PCs can have problems – Recently I splurged on a new laptop, a 13.3-inch Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook. Incredibly thin, light, and fast, it overjoyed me from the moment I unpacked it. It wasn’t long, though, before my joy turned to frustration. Although it booted with lightning speed, Internet access seemed slow. In fact, sometimes I couldn’t load Web pages at all.

Security:

Sky’s Android apps, Twitter account hacked – The British broadcaster removes several of its apps — including Sky Go, Sky News, and Sky Sports News — from the Google Play Store after being hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army.

Despite £800m in Losses, Small Businesses Scoff at Security – Small and medium-sized businesses are losing a staggering £785 million per year to cybercrime, according to a joint report published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Home Office and Business Departments in the United Kingdom.

Only 36% of small firms apply security patches. No wonder cybercrooks are stealing their cash – Small businesses are under constant attack from malware, scams and online fraud. They are simply woefully under-prepared to keep their assets safe. Despite reorganisation and redirected priorities, the police can still do little to help. Here are some general tips from the FSB to help firms better protect themselves.

Cybercrooks siphon $800,000 from US fuel distribution firm – Thieves drained $800,000 from a fuel distribution company in the US state of North Carolina earlier this month – a loss that the company attributes to its bank’s having recently upgraded security systems. Unfortunately, its insurance policy won’t come close to covering its losses.

Twitter’s stronger security isn’t bulletproof, experts warn – While experts praise Twitter’s decision to provide account holders with two-factor authentication, they warn that additional security will still be needed to prevent the hijacking of high-profile accounts.

Iranian Cyber-Attackers Target US Energy Companies – Iranian cyber-attackers launched a series of infiltration and surveillance missions against energy companies in the United States, and successfully accessed control-system software they could have used to manipulate oil or gas pipelines, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The attackers have collected information on the control systems and “acquired the means” to disrupt or destroy these systems in the future, current and former officials said, according to the report.

Company News:

Google, Microsoft finally bury the hatchet on YouTube app – Finally, the YouTube experience on Windows Phone will be how Google wants it. Late on Friday, Microsoft and Google-owned YouTube jointly said that the disputed YouTube app for Windows Phone will be reworked once again, and Microsoft pulled the offending app from its Windows Phone store. The app now points simply to YouTube’s mobile link.

Google Considering ‘Wireless Balloons’ to Deliver Internet to Countries – Google’s news about its ambitious plans to build wireless networks in “emerging markets” like Africa and Asia isn’t nearly as interesting as how the company might ultimately end up deploying Wi-Fi to these areas – not via conventional cable-stringing but, rather, by balloons.

Yahoo after Hulu’s subscription revenue – With its 4 million subscribers paying $7.99 per month and $695 million in revenue in 2012, Hulu would be a quick financial booster for Yahoo.

ZTE becomes third largest smartphone vendor in US – Chinese smartphone maker accounted for 17 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in first-quarter 2013, where its growth was boosted primarily by prepaid subscribers.

EU investigating Apple’s iPhone agreements with mobile operators – The European Commission has sent a questionnaire to a number of mobile operators in the European Union, focusing on whether its distribution terms with these providers may put Apple at an advantage over other smartphone makers, according to a newspaper report.

FTC to probe Google again – The Federal Trade Commission is taking yet another look at Google, this time over allegations the company used its near-monopolistic position online to sell and serve graphic and video ads.

Microsoft Goes After ‘xboxone’ Domain Names – If you haven’t thought of it already, now might be a great time to go out and snag the domain name xboxtwo.com. Or, perhaps, it’s not that good of an idea – Microsoft is currently disputing the ownership of the domain name related to the name of its recently announced, next-generation gaming console, the Xbox One.

Webopedia Daily:

Chat abbreviation – Used in real-time text-based communications — such as instant messaging, e-mail, online gaming services, chat rooms, discussion boards and mobile phone text messaging (SMS) — chat abbreviations are acronyms and slang terms used to shorten the amount of text you type when chatting online or on a cellphone. For example, if you are in a chatroom and someone types a funny statement, you could answer with LOL (short for Laughing Out Loud) instead of typing the full phrase out. Chat abbreviations are used in many different online groups and by people of all ages.

Games and Entertainment:

The Xbox One Tunes In On TV – Hardcore gamers are up in arms, but Xbox One will be a hit with casual gamers and even non-gamers. When the Xbox One was unveiled this week, Microsoft made it abundantly clear that this was not the Xbox we were used to. The original Xbox, and even the Xbox 360, were designed to be primarily, if not exclusively, game platforms. The Xbox One is designed to offer a connected, living-room entertainment experience.

Cheating in Online Video Games – Cheating has a long and storied history in video games, from the infamous Konami code to playing as Bill Clinton in NBA Jam. But that was back when gaming meant sitting huddled around a TV in the basement with your friends.

Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U: Welcome to the WAFT Generation – The new hardware is more powerful than the previous generation (or in the Wii U’s case, about as powerful as the current Microsoft and Sony offerings but still a big step up from the Wii), but those numbers are purely academic until developers take advantage of them. No, the big emphasis every major gaming manufacturer is placing on the new generation is the gimmicks, and they’re gimmicks no one really asked for.

10 Famous Actors Who’ve Done Video Games – Video games are big business these days, and the big titles increasingly get big-name actors, too. You might be surprised at some of the names in our list!

Why the Xbox One’s Used Game Handling Could Be Its Undoing – Based on what Microsoft has said so far – and this by no means the last we’ve heard of the policy – a person who buys a game disc new will install it on their console to play it. From there, they can bring it to a friend’s house to play it on his or her device. On that console, in order to play the game, the friend would need to buy the right to play the game. And in a recent interview with Kotaku, Xbox’s Phil Harrison said they’ll be paying full price. Annoyed yet?

The Making of ‘The Mystery of Minecraft’ – The game may not quite be a household name on the level of the most famous video games of all time yet, but it’s quietly worked its way into the fabric of society in a way that very few games ever have.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Gadgets for Grilling – Technology has its place at every step of your grilling events, whether you’re dining en famille or hosting a shindig. Planning out a menu, selecting cuts of meat, setting up, and keeping drinks cold and food hot are things you can (mostly) outsource with just a few items.

Weird Tech 5: Mad Mice – We hold some strange objects in our hands when we are at our PC. Here’s a selection of sleek, non-squeak mice for geeks.

The World’s Wackiest Vending Machines – What does a vending machine exist for, if not convenience? How convenience is defined however, becomes an anthropological investigation once you start exploring what’s vended and where.

How to photograph the moon – To shoot the moon, the technique is the same whether you have a compact digital camera or an SLR model—the only caveat is that no matter what kind of camera you choose, it should have a manual exposure mode, in which you dial in the aperture and shutter speed separately.

Local hero? Man tweets DUI checkpoint locations – Mr. Checkpoint is a man who alerts thousands of people where police are setting up DUI checkpoints in San Diego and the L.A. county areas. Not everyone approves of his motivations.

Today’s Quote:

Acquaintance, n.: A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.”

–     Ambrose Bierce

Today’s Free Downloads:

Remove Image Backgrounds (Alpha) – Easily remove the background from your photos to create masks, cutouts, or clipping paths, all done instantly online with ClippingMagic.com.

Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center – Microsoft Device Center is an application that helps you make the most out of your Microsoft keyboard and mouse. Customize devices from an easy-to-learn Windows 8 interface. Create new shortcuts that make tedious tasks a breeze.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 24, 2013

Infographic: How fast are America’s wireless networks? – TechHive, together with testing partner OpenSignal, visited 20 U.S. cities throughout March and April to measure the real-life speeds of wireless networks across the country. We found that LTE speeds are getting faster, that AT&T has the fastest LTE speeds right now, that Sprint’s and Verizon’s respective 3G services are stuck in low gear, and that the differences between the speeds of the carrier’s various services are considerable. This infographic should help you get a handle on our most prominent findings.

An Airway Created with a 3D Printer Saved This Baby’s Life – If you think 3D printing’s overhyped with all this talk of plastic guns and strange, spider-like houses, you clearly haven’t seen this: a tiny airway splint created using a 3D printer that saved a three-month-old’s life.

Use Google Drive on Android to save receipts – Wednesday’s update to Google Drive on Android lets you easily store all of your receipts and even search through them. Doesn’t a nice digital archive sound better than piles, folders, or boxes of receipts all over your home? Here’s how to get started.

Hisense releases $99 Sero 7 tablet to take on the Nexus 7, iPad mini – We’re getting closer and closer to disposable computers as Hisense delivers $99 Android tablets to Wal-Mart stores across the US.

Windows Blue hides 4K display support, tons of new features, developer says – Based on an extensive examination of the software APIs found within Windows Blue (now offically called Windows 8.1 by Microsoft), developer Justin Angel compiled a lengthy list of more than 25 features that he says will be included in the updated OS: the possibility of ultra-HD “4K” screen support, lock-screen calls, HDR photo support, better multi-screen formatting, and much more.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft adds a Windows key to its newest mice – Microsoft is readying two new mice, both of which feature buttons designed to help Windows 8 users find their way back to the Start screen.

Customize a mouse’s behavior with these five apps – Computer mice have been used for decades and are easily taken for granted. Even so, it is possible to make your mouse a little bit more appealing by customizing its behavior. A number of utilities exist that allow you to do things such as reassigning mouse buttons or scroll wheel’s behavior. There are even utilities that can record macros of your mouse movements. This article lists five such utilities.

The Internet of Things: What you need to know – The Internet of Things has emerged as one of IT’s hottest trends of 2013. We have a great set of resources to help you figure out how it can help your business.

French police end missing persons searches, suggest using Facebook instead – French police will no longer search for adults reported missing by their families unless there are signs that the person is in danger. The police have abandoned searches in progress and stopped accepting new search requests, according to an announcement on a government website Monday. The changes took effect on Friday.

Kim Dotcom Claims Two-Step Authentication Patent – Megaupload founder says everybody using the Internet security process owes him money. Following Twitter’s recent introduction of a two-factor verification system, Dotcom announced that he in fact invented the process and was awarded a patent for it. Now the embattled Megaupload founder wants a kickback to help pay his legal fees from any organization using it.

New iPhone 5 ad celebrates Generation Me-Me-Me, La-La-La – Having shown in a previous ad how everyone wants to photograph everything with their iPhone, a new Apple ad shows everyone navigating the world, while listening to their own soundtrack.

Jon Stewart accuses the Senate of all being Apple fanboys – The “Daily Show” simply had to have an opinion on Tim Cook’s appearance in front of the supposedly stern senators. His opinion of both the Senate and Apple wasn’t exactly complimentary.

Security:

Only 36% of small firms apply security patches. No wonder cybercrooks are stealing their cash – Small businesses are under constant attack from malware, scams and online fraud. They are simply woefully under-prepared to keep their assets safe. Despite reorganisation and redirected priorities, the police can still do little to help. Here are some general tips from the FSB to help firms better protect themselves.

Forget Passwords, Use Passphrases for Extra Security – What we call a password doesn’t have to be a word at all. A whole phrase or sentence, a passphrase, offers more security. A correctly chosen passphrase is easy for you to remember but difficult for anyone else to guess.

Google researcher reveals another Windows 0-day – According to Secunia, it is a potential privilege escalation vulnerability that could also be used to execute arbitrary code on the target system or DoS it, and affects fully patched Windows 7 and reportedly also Windows 8, but can be taken advantage of only by attackers that have physical access to the machine.

U.S. urged to let companies ‘hack-back’ at IP cyber thieves – The 100-page report, released this week, stops just short of recommending that the U.S. allow businesses to actively retrieve stolen information from within an intruder’s network, and to disable or destroy it without any limitations.

DHS employees’ info possibly compromised due to system flaw – U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees have begun receiving notifications about a vulnerability that has inadvertently made their personal information potentially accessible to unauthorized parties. The flaw was apparently found in the software used by a DHS vendor to process personnel security investigations and has been immediately addressed.

Company News:

Judge: Evidence shows Apple colluded to fix e-book prices – In a pretrial hearing for the antitrust lawsuit, a judge says the Justice Department will be able to show direct evidence that Apple “facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books.”

AT&T stands to make $2.5 billion over the next five years from new “administrative” fee – The Verge is reporting that AT&T has sneaked another fee into the phone bills of its 70 million or so postpaid wireless customers. The fee, called a “Mobility Administrative Fee” adds another 61 cents to the bill each month.

Yahoo acquires gaming infrastructure startup PlayerScale – The Internet giant said in a Twitter message Thursday that it would continue to support the gaming development platform, which PlayerScale claims powers games played by over 150 million people worldwide and is adding over 400,000 new users every day.

Microsoft cleared in Xbox patent spat with Google – The U.S. International Trade Commission on Thursday reaffirmed an earlier ruling, saying Microsoft did not infringe on patents owned by Google.

Hulu buyout heats up with four reported bidders – The video streaming service has supposedly been courting buyers over the past couple of years and now it looks like the first round of bids may be in.

Webopedia Daily:

Smart TV – Televisions that integrate the Internet and Web 2.0 features to provide a more interactive experience for users. Also known as connected TVs, Smart TVs provide features like Web browsing; video-on-demand and video streaming via services such as YouTube, Netflix and Hulu Plus; Internet radio from services like Pandora and Rhapsody; social networking from sites like Twitter and Facebook; apps and games and more. Smart TVs are also typically DLNA certified, enabling the sharing of movies, photos, music and similar multimedia content from other DLNA-compliant PCs, tablet computers, smartphones and similar devices.

Games and Entertainment:

Grand Theft Auto V Special and Collector’s editions announced – As soon as Grand Theft Auto V was announced retailers started allowing you to place a speculative pre-order. However, we didn’t know about any special editions of the game until today, and now Rockstar Games has announced two of them.

Surviving Minecraft: 9 Easy Steps to Get Started – To help out with your first day in Minecraft’s pixelated wilderness, here are some steps to follow. You should be able to get all the essentials done before the sun goes down and the monsters come out. Of course, you don’t have to follow these instructions right away. Spend some time running around, figuring out the controls and dying a few times. When you’re ready to get serious about crafting and building, here some guidelines to consider.

Bioshock Infinite delivers high-flying adventure – It’s not often a game comes along that makes me wish I could go travel back in time to experience it all again for the first time. Bioshock Infinite does that. It makes me long for a time where I could play through the tale of Booker and Elizabeth all over again.

Heart of the Swarm a big step in StarCraft II’s evolution – Just as the Zerg are always evolving, so too is Blizzard’s iconic real-time strategy series. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm doesn’t just upgrade and expand the exceptional StarCraft formula–it also hacks, cuts, and refines the core gameplay.

Gamestop: Xbox One will be priced less than the Xbox 360 – Hard as it may be to believe, Gamestop executives believe that both the Microsoft Xbox One as well as the Sony PlayStation 4 will be priced less than their predecessors—and fewer people will buy them, too.

Off Topic (Sort of):

No niche for iPad: A cautionary tale on ‘needing a purpose’ – Within the 14-day period in which Apple consumers are granted a stay of financial relief on their purchases, I returned my tablet not with a heavy heart but nonetheless with a feeling of disappointment in myself. It’s not that I didn’t like the iPad. The build quality was excellent, the software functionaliy was superb, and there was nothing but the highest of intent for burgeoning productivity potential. It was that I simply didn’t need one. And not just an iPad, a test case as it turns out, but any tablet for that matter.

Video: Cat overcomes predatory instincts to nurse ducklings – Normally, a fluffy yellow duckling might prove merely a tempting delicacy to a hungry cat. Yet, for this feline it appears her mothering instinct has overcome all temptations. (Worth the watch)

Life Under the KGB’s Watchful Eye in 1980s Russia – Everything was bugged, we were followed constantly, and even our dog knew we had a “minder.” (recommended by Michael F.)

Relive the last nine months on Mars as seen by the Curiosity Rover – Great snapshots are good-and-all, but now thanks to a YouTuber by the name of Karl Sanford, we can get a full picture of what Curiosity has been doing for the last nine-months. Karl has put together a one-minute time-lapse video of every black-and-white RAW photo taken by Curiosity’s front left hazcam between August 8 and just yesterday (May 22)—roughly 281 days in total.

Get Ready: Google Just Went to the Galapagos, and Pretty Soon You’ll Go Too (Via Street View, of Course) – On Sunday, a team of Googlers returned to Mountain View with a special, digital cargo: hard drives loaded with 360-degree imagery taken during a 10-day adventure around the Galapagos Islands, covering both the islands’ lush terrain and their surrounding waters. The crew passed off their files to the engineering team, who will stitch the files together into a seamless, explorable landscape to be released on Street View later this year (Google would not say more precisely when). (recommended by Michael F.)

Today’s Quote:

To be willing to die for an idea is to set a rather high price on conjecture.”

–     Anatole France

Today’s Free Downloads:

BotRevolt Free Edition – BotRevolt Free Edition is a simpler version of the BotRevolt application and allows you to access its main features. The main goal of the application is to monitor the active Internet connections and to block the ones that are suspicious. In order to protect you from potentially dangerous websites, the application uses a global list of malicious addresses. You can use this tool for preventing the connections that might lead to security threats. (recommended by Richard J.)

Revo Uninstaller 1.94 – With its advanced and fast algorithm to scan before and after uninstall you can remove unnecessary files, folders and registry keys left in your computer after you have uninstall an application with its build in uninstaller. With its unique “Hunter mode” it offers you some simple, easy to use but effective and powerful approaches to manage (uninstall, stop, delete, disable from autostarting) and to get information about your installed and/or running applications. Revo Uninstaller gives you another 8 handy and powerful tools to clean up your system.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 23, 2013

Google Keep vs. OneNote vs. Evernote: We name the note-app winner – Google’s new software muscles in on the space currently dominated by Microsoft OneNote and Evernote, two note-taking apps that save your text, Web links, photos, audio recordings, and more, helping to keep your life organized. Think of these tools as sticky notes on steroids. They’re great for managing day-to-day errands and stashing rich media content, but also exceptional for organizing tasks at work.

Shrink photos and clear up some hard drive space with JPEGmini – JPEGmini can help you shrink popular JPEG images to almost a fifth of their original size, potentially clearing up to 80 percent of hard drive space. Originally developed for the Mac, JPEGmini (free webware) recently debuted its Windows version, which we were able to take for a spin.

How to block in-app purchases on your Android tablet – The process I outline below doesn’t completely disable in-app purchases, but it makes them require a password. This will prevent you from accidentally buying an app, and it keeps other people who use your tablet from making those purchases (even if they want the app that’s offered). While this isn’t a perfect solution, it does work.

Free Chrome extensions power up Gmail – From keyboard shortcuts to inbox managers, these handy Chrome extensions make a good email program even better.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 8 users rarely use Metro apps, study says – The difference is touch: tablet and touchscreen laptop users adopted more Windows Store apps than users with non-touch displays.

Review: MyFax online faxing system – MyFax costs $10 a month, but you can try it for free for 30-days at no obligation. You do need to provide credit card information in advance, but as long as you cancel within the 30-day trial period, you won’t be charged. After signing up, I was literally ready to go within minutes. I went through a short setup wizard which set my location and generated my fax number, which I could give out to anyone wishing to send me faxes.

Google improves desktop voice search in new Chrome update – Google’s latest Chrome build allows desktop users to interact with its iconic search engine simply by having a conversation.

Font free-for-all: Where to get free and low-cost fonts – If your budget is low, or if you just want to experiment with a wide variety of type styles, check out the abundance of free and low-cost sources on the Internet. Warning: not all fonts are created equal. A font file that you install on your computer is actually a tiny program, with a variety of capabilities—including the ability to crash your applications.

Siri slams iPad in new Windows 8 ad – Redmond’s new competitive spirit reaches a high pitch as one of Apple’s favorite pitchwomen is co-opted to trash Apple’s famed tablet.

Stalk your love object with your gadget, says new Galaxy S4 ad – Once upon a time, men wooed women. They tried to charm them. Now Samsung declares that they incessantly take pictures of them, until the woman is mesmerized. Or something.

Security:

Prevent a hack attack with Twitter’s new two-factor authentication – Twitter on Wednesday said users will now be able to protect their accounts by registering a phone number and email address. This isn’t automatic: You have to select, “Require a verification code when I sign in,” on your Account Settings page.

Malware in the Google Play Store: Enemy inside the gates – Google Play has experienced some recent malware infestations. Learn about the details and how to protect yourself and your users.

Xbox One Raises the Burden of Privacy Safeguards: 5 Questions for Microsoft – Xbox One will be Microsoft’s eyes and ears in your home, but that only increases the company’s burden to safeguard our privacy.

Small businesses beware! Point-of-sale malware is after you – Malware targeting point-of-sale (POS) systems has been a major trend for the last six months. With easy pickings to be had from mom-and-pop shops, this pattern is only going to grow until people start fighting back with better system security, and ideally better payment card systems. (Nonsense – this has been happening for years. NOT 6 months.)

Another Mac OS X Backdoor Reported – Another sample of the Mac OS X spyware discovered last week has been found in the wild, security company F-Secure said.

Breakfast malware at Tiffany’s? Trojan horses spammed out widely – Little blue boxes from Tiffany & Co. are the stuff of dreams for many. Don’t let an unexpected email delivery – apparently from the company – make you so giddy with an excitement that you end up with a computer nightmare.

Syrian activists’ Facebook pages said to be shuttered – A handful of profiles and pages on the social network, which have been gathering places for Syrians to discuss their country’s civil war, have mysteriously disappeared.

Company News:

AMD reveals next-gen mobile CPUs, claims unprecedented graphics performance – AMD hopes to have a big second half in 2013, launching three new CPUs featuring integrated graphics that perform on par with the company’s discrete GPUs. On Thursday, AMD revealed key details of these next-generation mobile chips, code-named Temash, Kabini, and Richland.

Penguin Settles E-Book Price-Fixing Suit for $75 Million – Book publisher Penguin today announced a $75 million deal that settles a class-action lawsuit over e-book price-fixing.

HP Posts Losing Quarter as Struggles Continue – Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman points to a few positive developments but admits “we simply have to perform better” after double-digit declines in sales and net income.

Jennifer Lopez, Verizon Team Up for Latino-Focused Wireless Stores – Lopez’s new retail chain, Viva Movil, is in fact important. It’s a chain of Verizon stores targeted at Latino consumers with a fully bilingual staff and things like children’s play areas because, Lopez said, Latinos often shop with their families. It’s a strong, targeted play for a fast-growing and influential market, and it dovetails with CTIA’s focus on the Latino market this year.

Walmart Wants Its Mobile Apps To Be ‘Indispensable’ – Retailers like Walmart are tapping into the power of mobile to help you shop more effectively and, hopefully, more often.

Webopedia Daily:

MEMS – Short for micro-electromechanical systems, the name for a micro fabrication technology used in making systems-on-a-chip (SoC) that embeds mechanical devices such as fluid sensors, mirrors, actuators, pressure and temperature sensors, vibration sensors and valves in semiconductor chips. MEMS combine many disciplines, including physics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, electrical engineering, optics and electronics.

Games and Entertainment:

The Biggest Games Coming to the Xbox One – The Xbox One is official, and is scheduled to hit store shelves in time for the 2013 holiday season. More details about Xbox One games are expected at June’s E3 gaming conference. But until then, here are a few of the more high-profile games coming to Microsoft’s new console.

Hello Xbox One, Goodbye Freedom – Expanded Kinect features, cloud computing aspects, and the ability to install retail games completely to the hard drive sound great for users, but the technology that makes them tick and how Microsoft will implement them signals a dark future for gamers who want to control what they buy and use.

Claim: Human-like opponents prompt more aggression in video game players – Video games that pit players against human-looking characters may be more likely to provoke violent thoughts and words than games where monstrous creatures are the enemy, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Connecticut and Wake Forest University.

Damson’s ‘seriously loud’ Pearl and Oyster bluetooth speakers – Making waves for the first time in the U.S., the Pearl and Oyster wireless speakers from Damson Audio have washed up on the beaches of CTIA 2013. Both Bluetooth products are designed by the British manufacturer, but it’s the first time we’ve seen them on this side of the pond.

Forget what you know, next-gen consoles change everything – The evolution of gaming is about to make a quantum leap. Here’s what you need to know.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Web suffered 9000 service outages in last five months – Over the last five months, there have been 1413 full outages worldwide, or about nine a day, and nearly 8000 partial outages, or 53 a day, according to figures from the free Internet service tracker. A full outage results when a web service is unavailable; a partial outage happens when only some of a service’s users are affected.

Illegal numbers: Can you break the law with math? – The most famous example of an illegal number was developed in 2001 in which the binary representation of a large prime number corresponded to a compressed version of C source code which implemented the DeCSS decryption algorithm. As this algorithm can be used to circumvent a DVD’s copy protection, the number used to generate the code was therefore deemed illegal.

Were the Victorians smarter than us? – The reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901, coincided with countless scientific and industrial breakthroughs, from the first transatlantic telegraph to the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. A team of European researchers now say they can explain this burst of innovation: people back then were “cleverer” than us. A study published in the journal Intelligence purports that IQ has dropped 1.23 points per decade since Victorian times, or 14 points total. If that seems sketchy, don’t worry: this study is sure to be debated among scientists, too.

Pizza printer means quick and tasty snacks in your house…or on Mars – System & Materials’ Anjan Contractor won a $125,000 NASA grant to build a printer for food—more specifically, pizza. The open-source printer would 3D-print the pizza’s toppings then heat it so it all melts together. It’s not limited to pizza, either, and it can handle all sorts of ingredients—from tomato sauce to blades of grass to…insects.

Enough With the 3D Printer Hype Already – While the 3D printer may eventually become an important part of the manufacturing arsenal, it isn’t yet. And if you’ve played with or looked at 3D printers, it’s plain to see their byproducts are pretty crude.

Today’s Quote:

I loathe the expression “What makes him tick.” It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm.”

–        James Thurber

Today’s Free Downloads:

LogMeIn Free – LogMeIn enables you to work via a web browser with a remote computer from virtually anywhere you have an Internet connection. In a matter of minutes you can get fast, easy and secure access to remote computers (PCs and Macs) with LogMeIn. Simply install LogMeIn on the computer you want to access to gain remote control of its desktop, files, applications and network resources over the web.

CD Recovery Toolbox Free 2.0 – CD Recovery Toolbox Free was developed for recovering damaged files from different disk types: CD, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-Ray, etc.

Earth Alerts 2013.1.80 – Earth Alerts is a Windows-based application that allows you to monitor in near real-time a variety of natural hazard events that are occurring anywhere around the world. Alert notifications, reports, and imagery provide the user with a convenient way to view natural phenomenon as they occur, whether close to home or some far-flung corner of the globe!

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News