Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 7, 2013

Senate passes Internet sales tax – The U.S. Senate has voted to allow states to collect sales tax from online retailers, making it more difficult to buy tax-free products online. The bill would allow states to collect sales tax on large Internet sellers that have no presence within their borders, curtailing the ability of Internet shoppers to avoid sales tax. Now, online retailers only have to collect taxes in states where they have a physical presence, including retail stores and warehouses.

Don’t freak out, but the government records and stores every phone call and email – Is the government recording and listening to your every phone call and probing every email for dangerous ideas? Probably—if certain insiders are to be believed. According to one former FBI agent, the US government may indeed keep a massive database where all domestic communications are recorded and stored.

How to turn your smartphone into a laptop – I think it’s pretty safe to say that most people these days own some sort of smartphone, whether it is powered by Android or iOS. While many only use their handset to make calls, stream the occasional video, and check Facebook or e-mail, there are those of use who lean heavily on a smartphone for business and work.

Google’s Schmidt Concerned by Lack of Internet ‘Delete Button’ – The permanence of information on the Internet, in some cases, goes against the basic principle of fairness in America, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, said during a Monday talk at New York University. Schmidt gave an example to illustrate his point: a teenager commits a crime, goes to juvenile hall, and is released. In America’s legal system, the person can apply and have the crime expunged from their record then legally state they were never convicted of anything. But the same isn’t true on the Internet.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to improve security in Firefox, Chrome, and IE – Block third-party cookies, delete your history on exit, and restrict JavaScript in Firefox and Chrome, but don’t bother enabling do-not-track until the feature actually works.

Yes, Facebook is like a revolving door – With more than a billion active accounts worldwide, it is easy to forget that some people don’t actually use Facebook. A study by Cornell University researchers presented this week in Paris suggests that “non-use” of the social networking site is fairly common – a third of Facebook users take breaks from the site by deactivating their accounts, and one in 10 completely quit.

As Google I/O nears, 15 killer apps show best of Chrome – The best apps available now innovate on look, feel, offline functionality, and collaboration, or they’re just plain cool.

Get useless bloatware off a Galaxy S4 – Like pre-installed programs on a Windows PC, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is full of “crapware,” unnecessary apps and services from Samsung or your carrier that offer no value. Here’s how to disable them.

3DMark – Futuremark is busy these days shaking up their benchmarking business, and the new 3DMark is proof that nothing is off the table. PC, WinRT, Android and iOS support are all planned, although the Windows and Android versions are currently the only ones available.

3D-Printed Guns: Your Questions Answered – Are they legal? How does it work? Here’s what you need to know about 3D-printed guns.

How Linux found its home in the enterprise – Linux is uniquely suited to meet the demands of large-scale, enterprise computing. Jack Wallen traces its evolution and impact on enterprise systems.

When Did Google Become the Internet Police? And why aren’t more people upset about it? – Last week my website and the No Agenda podcast listener support page were both blacklisted for malware. In some instances I am still waiting for the blacklisting to be lifted. Peachy. It’s funny how the site can be blacklisted in a millisecond by an analysis but I have to wait forever to get cleared by the same analysis doing the same scan. Why is that?


IE 8 Zero Day Found as DoL Watering Hole Attack Spreads to Nine Other Sites – Microsoft issued an advisory warning that an IE 8 zero-day exploit was used to attack the US Department of Labor website and nine others, including government and non-profit organizations in Europe.

Malware you can “live with”, but shouldn’t – The main symptom of a computer being infected with the ZeroAccess (or Sirefef) malware is that online searches via Google Search often lead to unhelpful pages filled with ads and equally useless links. This generates revenue for the malware’s controllers, but it’s extremely irritating for the affected users.

Google left heating, cooling system open to hackers – Hackers could have turned up the heat in one of Google’s offices in Sydney. Literally. Computer security researchers with Cylance found that Google’s Australia branch was using an unpatched version of Niagara, a software system used for managing control systems in buildings.

Java Bugs, New and Old, Affecting IBM SDK – Security researcher Adam Gowdiak and his team at Security Explorations have discovered another slew of issues that stem from the way Java is implemented in certain versions of software, in this case, IBM’s SDK.

Bruce Schneier on the Boston Marathon Bombing and the Psychology of Fear (Podcast) – Dennis Fisher talks with Bruce Schneier about the effects of the Boston Marathon bombing, how the psychology of fear plays into people’s reactions to these events and what the political aftermath could be.

Hackers: From innocent curiosity to illegal activity – Researchers asked why talented youth skilled in “computerese” evolve into criminal hackers. Michael P. Kassner explains their unexpected results.

AutoIt Increasingly Employed by Malware Developers – AutoIt, the BASIC-like automation language for Windows programmers, is becoming a favored tool among malware developers for the same reasons it attracts legitimate users: it’s free, flexible and easy to use.

China bot operators target Apple’s App Store rankings – Increasing competition among bot operators touting the ability to “promote” an app up Apple’s free download list results in Apple “locking down” the chart last Friday.

Company News:

Adobe scraps Creative Suite software licenses in favor of cloud subscriptions – In a move that should surprise no one, Adobe announced sweeping changes to its Creative Suite software line and year-old Creative Cloud subscription service. Signaling a new focus on integrating creative services in the cloud with its professional desktop software, Adobe launched a new cloud-based Creative Suite—with a new CC moniker, for Creative Cloud.

EA is the ‘Star Wars’ games company Disney is looking for – Disney and Electronic Arts announced today an exclusive deal for the development and publication of new “Star Wars” video games.

Microsoft to reveal Windows Blue pricing, availability soon – Software giant is ready to fire up the Windows Blue disclosure machine. Here’s what to expect and when, according to company officials.

Intel Introduces New 22nm Atom Lineup – Intel on Monday raised the curtain on a next-generation, 22-nanometer Atom core microarchitecture code named Silvermont, promising major improvements in power and power efficiency compared with current-generation Atom System-on-a-Chip (SoC) cores.

Microsoft sells more than 100M Windows 8 licenses in 6 months – The sales milestone is on par with the number of Windows 7 licenses sold in its first six months on the market.

Webopedia Daily:

CPU – Central Processing Unit – The CPU itself is an internal component of the computer. Modern CPUs are small and square and contain multiple metallic connectors or pins on the underside. The CPU is inserted directly into a CPU socket, pin side down, on the motherboard. Each motherboard will support only a specific type (or range) of CPU, so you must check the motherboard manufacturer’s specifications before attempting to replace or upgrade a CPU in your computer. Modern CPUs also have an attached heat sink and small fan that go directly on top of the CPU to help dissipate heat.

Games and Entertainment:

Maxis announces The Sims 4 – It’s only been a couple of months since the launch of SimCity and the debacle that followed (which still lingers today), but Maxis and EA want to cleanse your palate with a new addition to the Sims franchise: The Sims 4 is coming to PC and Mac in 2014.

See the Only Remaining Footage From Silent 1926 ‘Great Gatsby’ – Like most other silent pictures of the era, the bulk of the film has long since been lost. (Common estimates say 90% of silent films have been lost.) Fitzgerald likely wouldn’t have minded much; he and his wife Zelda found it so intolerable they walked out of the movie. But fortunately for curious cinephiles, the trailer, at least, has survived long enough to hit YouTube.

Plants vs. Zombies 2 Arrives in July – The sequel to Plants vs. Zombies will debut in July, PopCap announced in a teaser video.

GameStop Ending PlayStation 2 Trade-Ins After June 1 – If you’re looking to get rid of your old PlayStation 2, you might want to do it sooner rather than later. At least if you’re planning to trade it in at GameStop.

Off Topic (Sort of):

British cryptographic hacking from WW2 – how well would you have done? – If you were taken prisoner and wanted to send messages home right under your captors’ noses, what would you do? You know that your captors will only let your letters out if you write convincingly and fluently about largely inconsequential things, and give a positive impression of how they are treating you. And you know that if your letters too obviously contain a secret subtext, you might be shot, or worse.

First in flight: Maryland professor’s robot bird good enough to fool the real thing – Satyandra Gupta apparently loves birds so much he decided to build one. His skills as a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland probably didn’t hurt in his quest, and this week he announced the Robo Raven is now a reality. The robotic avian can dive and roll and looks so realistic that other birds have attacked it in flight. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Phosforce laser flashlight can illuminate or incinerate – Stick the Phosforce lens on your Arctic laser and you’ve got a powerful flashlight. Take it off and you can annihilate balloons with the laser.

Gap Between Teen Materialism And Work Ethic Wider Than Ever – A new study led by San Diego State University (SDSU) has set out to answer the question: Are today’s youth really more materialistic and less motivated than past generations, or do adults tend to perceive moral weakness in the next generation? (suggested by Aseem S.)

Watch out Maverick: Navy drones practicing their carrier landings – Drone proves it can “tailhook” land on solid ground, will head to sea next. (suggested by Michel F.)

T-FX: Terrafugia’s vision for a vertical-takeoff flying car (pictures) – Terrafugia, a company focused on building practical flying cars, looks at developing a vertical takeoff and landing flying car.

Today’s Quote:

The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people, and greatly assists in the circulation of their blood.”

–        Logan Pearsall Smith

Today’s Free Downloads:

Trend Micro RootkitBuster 5.0.0 Build 1129 Beta – Malicious software called rootkits manipulate operating system components to conceal their harmful actions. Scans hidden files, registry entries, processes, drivers, and the master boot record (MBR) to identify and remove rootkits.

NoScript – NoScript’s unique whitelist based pre-emptive script blocking approach prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known and even not known yet!) with no loss of functionality.

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One response to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 7, 2013

  1. Pingback: Hide Your Serial Numbers, Passwords, Phone Numbers and Everyday Notes In A Safe Place | What's On My PC