Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 2, 2013

US seeks to pressure Google, Facebook et al. into installing wiretapping backdoors – A new proposal would require tech firms to design surveillance-enabling trapdoors from the ground up or modify existing services, facilities and equipment. The FBI says it’s necessary to quickly catch terrorists and child abusers, but others say it’s a recipe for opening servers up to hacking and illicit surveillance.  (Unbelievable – the government in our homes all day – every day. What planet are these people from?)

The Future of Cars: Connected Vehicles Infographic – It used to be that drivers only had to worry about driving safely, following the rules of the road and maintaining their vehicle, but now vehicle owners have a new issue to worry about: IT security. Connected Cars infographic outlines the security risks new features in connected cars introduce and tips for vehicle owners and manufacturers for protecting these vehicles.

Text- and app-blocker keeps eyes on the road – When your teen driver can’t keep his eyes on the road, who ya gonna call? TextBuster!

12 easy PC tasks you should be doing (but aren’t) – No more excuses! Whipping your PC into the best shape it can be requires but a dozen simple tasks. None are complicated, most take a matter of minutes, and all will have a major effect on how well your computer works for you. Even better, by the time you’re finished you’ll never have to worry about doing many of these tasks again.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Tools for the paranoid: 5 free security tools to protect your data – Because even a law-abiding citizen like you has a few secrets to keep, we’ve found five industrial-grade tools to help you hang on to what’s yours. No need to enter a credit card number to get them, either–they’re all free.

Find out what’s taking up space on your drive in seconds with WizTree – Clearing out hard drive space is never fun, so it should at least be a quick and painless task. WizTree is a free and tiny utility that scans NTFS volumes at blazing speeds, making it possible to home in on the largest files and folders in no time at all. It’s available in a portable version, too, so you can carry it around on your USB stick to help out friends and colleagues in need. This product is donationware. It’s free to use, but the developer encourages donations.

Tech A Mother Can Love – Sure, you can give your Mom flowers or a nice framed picture of you. But to really wow her, check out some fun, useful gadgets and apps she’ll love.

Crisp up your desktop with a window manager utility– Too many open windows, and suddenly your desktop’s a disaster. We review five programs that can organize your windows in a snap.

Amazon Updates iOS Kindle Reading App for Blind, Visually Impaired – Amazon is making it easier for blind and visually impaired users to take advantage of the Kindle Store.

Consolidate your photo libraries with NeroKwik – NeroKwik lets you access all of your online and offline photos (scattered between multiple devices and social media sites) from one accessible app.

Use Net Uptime Monitor to help diagnose Internet problems – True to its name, this utility helps you track when your connection is up—and, more importantly, when it’s down. Specifically, it alerts you to Internet connection failures and records the time and duration of those failures. That log may be of help when presented to your ISP.

Jelly Bean overtakes Ice Cream Sandwich in Android rankings – Android 4.1 and 4.2 combine for 28.4 percent of active devices running the mobile OS, claiming second place from Ice Cream Sandwich with sliding Gingerbread on the horizon.


Mozilla moves to stop spyware company from spoofing Firefox – Mozilla sent a cease-and-desist letter to a European company that created a piece of spyware masquerading itself as the Firefox browser. The move Tuesday comes after computer security researchers said that they discovered that a well-known spyware program called FinSpy was spoofing Firefox. Mozilla was alerted by the researchers, who are with Citizen Lab, a research project that is part of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. FinSpy is one component in a set of remote interception and intrusion tools called FinFisher, which is made by a subsidiary of U.K-based Gamma Group called Gamma International.

When you encrypt a file or a hard drive, is it really secure? – There’s no such thing as perfect security. Someone with sufficient time and money, and a strong enough motive, can crack anything. So the real question becomes: Is your encryption secure enough. And the answer is: If your encryption software uses a recognized and respected standard such as AES or Blowfish, and you use strong passwords and take other precautions, it almost certainly is.

Backroom Secrets of the Security Tech Support Experts Revealed – Honesty is the best policy, they say. Certainly I appreciated the honesty displayed during my recent review of Emsisoft Anti-Malware 7.0. When the antivirus scanner couldn’t completely remove the malware it found, it honestly admitted that fact, and advised me to get tech support help for finishing the cleanup process. Little did I know that by doing so I’d embark on a weeklong trek, experiencing first-hand just how far a malware cleanup expert will go.

Watering hole attack claims us department of labor website – The United States Department of Labor website was hacked in a watering hole attack. The website was redirecting visitors to a malicious site hosting the Poison Ivy remote access Trojan.

Internet Companies Get Passing Grades on Privacy Advocacy and Transparency – The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s annual “Who’s Got Your Back?” report evaluates the privacy, advocacy and transparency positions of leading Internet companies. While most fared well, ISPs such as Verizon and AT&T, as well as Apple, Amazon and Yahoo, did not.

Company News:

Path Accused of Spamming Via Texts, Robocalls – Path is once again being accused of spamming members’ contacts with text messages and calls, according to the sordid tale of one ex-Path user’s experience.

Google finds itself under further government pressure – British Parliament appears to be a little concerned that the search engine Google might not have been telling the whole truth the last time it showed up.

Think tablets are popular? Shipments explode in Q1 – Tablet shipments exploded by 142 percent in the first quarter of 2013 year-over-year as all Android tablets, including low-budget white box versions, dominated the market over Apple iOS tablets, IDC said.

Is Apple losing its edge to a cheaper tablet market? – Numbers show that while the tech giant still reigns in tablet shipments, it’s growing at a slower rate than Samsung, Amazon, Asus, and Microsoft.

Yahoo acquires to-do app Astrid – The company will continue to support the task management app for the next 90 days, but some users can expect refunds on paid subscriptions.

Facebook revenue rises 38 percent amid continued mobile growth – Facebook posted a revenue increase of 38 percent in the first quarter that was bolstered by broad engagement across the site, the company reported Wednesday. Revenue for the social networking company increased to US$1.46 billion for the quarter ended March 31, up 38 percent from $1.06 billion from the same period last year.

YouTube to advertisers: You need us to attract a younger crowd – Google executives say the site is a key way to reach 18- to 34-year-olds, but it didn’t announce any major partnerships or revolutionary new programming during an event in New York.

Webopedia Daily:

Enterprise Linux – Enterprise Linux is the term used to reference any distribution (distro) of the open source Linux operating system that is targeted to the commercial market — not to consumers — for use on corporate or small business servers, desktops, workstations and mobile deployments. Some of the different Enterprise Linux distributions include Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), CentOS, Oracle Enterprise Linux, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED).

Games and Entertainment:

Fez lands on Windows – The remarkable little 2D platformer set in a 3D world launches its Windows version today on Steam and GOG. It’s Gomez time!

Electricity zaps gamers’ muscles for force feedback – The system, developed by researchers at Germany’s Hasso Plattner Institute, involves sticking electrodes on gamers’ forearms and then delivering a small pulse of electricity from a 9-volt battery. The pulse makes the muscle contract and it’s the fighting of that contraction that delivers the feeling of force feedback.

Trailer for ‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’ Revealed – Shortly after Activision confirmed the upcoming release of Call of Duty: Ghosts, a trailer for the game has been posted to YouTube.

Drop: Minecraft creator’s new Web game – Minecraft’s Notch has “dropped” a new, Unity-based browser game in our laps to commemorate this year’s Ludum Dare competition. Only speedy typists with laser focus need apply.

YouTubers watch more than 6B hours of videos per month – Up more than 50 percent from just a year ago, video viewing by the site’s 1 billion monthly visitors shows they are watching a serious boatload of videos.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How to transform any window into a power outlet – Solar chargers, a revolutionary idea just a few short years ago, are popping up everywhere.

Schoolgirl tries science experiment, arrested for felony – A teenage girl puts two household chemicals in a water bottle at school to see what might happen. There is a small explosion. No one is hurt. She is expelled and charged with weapons possession.

German ministry replaced brand new PCs infected with Conficker worm, rather than disinfect them – After computers in Germany became infected with the notorious Conficker worm, 170 of them were disposed of and replaced with new equipment at the taxpayers’ expense. Wouldn’t it have been easier (and cheaper) to have wiped the drives and restored from a backup?

World’s toughest material created by tying slip knots into weak, commercial thread – Nicola Pugno, at the University of Trento in Italy, has succeeded in making by far the toughest material in the world — by taking a conventional piece of fiber… and tying it in a slip knot. This method seems (and is) so simple that the inventor is calling it the Egg of Columbus, which refers to a discovery that has eluded mankind forever — but seems incredibly obvious and easy after the fact.

Time to Vote in the ‘Doodle 4 Google’ Contest – From Hawaii to Maine, Google has selected 50 state winners from across the United States and has now opened the voting to the public to pick their favorites.

Today’s Quote:

There was a time when we expected nothing of our children but obedience, as opposed to the present, when we expect everything of them but obedience.”

Anatole Broyard

Today’s Free Downloads:

LibreOffice Productivity Suite 4.0.3 RC2 – LibreOffice was developed to be a productivity suite that is compatible with other major office suites, and available on a variety of platforms. Beta test the next version.

Windows Bootable Image Creator 1.3 – “WBICreator” is a free and portable utility created by AskVG reader “Shashi Kumar Sinha” which allows you to create bootable ISO image file of Windows XP/Vista/Win7/Win8 setup.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

6 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 2, 2013

  1. Hello Bill,
    In my eyes, a back door was always how friends entered you home. I personally don’t think that those that would like easy access to invade our privacy can be looked at in the same way as our trusted friends.
    I also don’t understand the reasoning behind the assumption that most of us are crooks, child molesters and/or terrorists.
    Unless the above assumption aren’t the way in which our law enforcement sees us, why would they need “backdoors”.
    I thought that we are all presumed innocent till PROVEN guilty ???
    I guess it must be my old synoecism coming out.
    Has 9/11/2001 really turned this entire world upside down ??? Have we really forgotten to see the good in our fellow man and only see the evil ???
    9/11 should have taught all of us to be cautious but, caution should also be combined with reason, respect and consideration toward others.

    • Hi Bob,

      Not the first time the FBI has tried this backdoor nonsense. Sometime back, when it was apparent that TrueCrypt was in fact unbreakable, they attempted to coerce the developer into installing a backdoor.

      It’s no accident that the answer to your posit – “Have we really forgotten to see the good in our fellow man and only see the evil?” – is yes. 9/11 has resurrected the boogie man that the World is intrinsically evil.

      You yourself say – “9/11 should have taught all of us to be cautious.” But, cautious about what? Terrorism? Or, this – Study: The U.S. has had one mass shooting per month since 2009.

      Misplaced anxiety, or the results of deliberate action on the part of governments to exercise additional “control” through that well worn motivator – fear?

      The bastards have most people running scared. Truly a sad state of affairs.



  2. Fred

    “US seeks to pressure Google, Facebook et al. into installing wiretapping backdoors’
    ‘They hate us for our freedoms’

    ‘The proles are not human beings,’ he said carelessly. ‘By 2050 earlier, probably — all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron — they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’
    1984, G. Orwell.

  3. Richard James

    Hi Bill,
    Re: Find out what’s taking up space on your drive in seconds with WizTree

    I installed WizTree some time ago after reading about it on Tech Thoughts and it’s pretty decent! (Fast too). However I’m wondering if you’ve ever tried DiskSorter? It’s not quite so easy to use but has a ridiculous amount of functionality in the free version, in particular the file classification plug-ins.

    All the best,

    Rick J.