Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 6, 2013

Verizon order: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily – The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries. The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing. (suggested by Michael F.)

China Calls Out U.S. for Hacking – The predominant narrative among U.S. officials and cybersecurity experts is that Chinese hackers, allegedly at the behest of their government, are thoroughly compromising the computer networks of American government, defense, and public sector organizations in order to steal any valuable data found within them on a daily basis. What you don’t hear so often, though we’d be remiss to ignore it and you’d be a fool not to believe it, is that the U.S. is doing the same exact thing to China.

FreedomPop to roll out free mobile voice service – Service provider FreedomPop announced Wednesday it will offer a free voice plan for mobile users by the end of the summer. The new plan will include 200 voice minutes, unlimited texting, and 500MB of data. FreedomPop has already raised a few eyebrows with its free mobile data plan. FreedomPop—the idea of Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom—also will offer a $10-a-month plan for unlimited voice calls.

FreedomPop’s Free Wireless Would Be Cool If It Wasn’t So Shady – Is FreedomPop worth considering? Sure, but only if you’re keenly aware of the service’s hidden costs and gotchas.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Senator’s wife on Facebook: Keep away from my man, strippers – The wife of Alabama state Sen. Shadrack McGill decides that she must go to Facebook to shame those women who are allegedly chasing her man, even coming to their front door.

10 facts that prove Galaxy S4 is better than iPhone 5 – We have facts, people. Unassailable truths that justify sneering at iPhone lovers and the bourgeoise followers that trail them.

Facebook post about hungry child gets school bus driver fired – A Georgia school bus driver is so upset when a 6th-grader tells him that he was 40 cents short for lunch, and therefore hungry, that he posts about it online. Naturally, the curse of Facebook strikes again.

Sweet Home 3D Portable – Sweet Home 3D Portable is a free interior design tool from eTeks that lets you make as many changes as you want to your home before so much as moving a chair–and not just furniture placement but the stuff you really, truly don’t want to do over, like painting the kitchen. Sweet Home 3D Portable is just like the regular version of Sweet Home 3D, only it’s fully portable so it runs without having to be installed in Windows. Recent updates include custom furniture materials, new wall textures, and improved photo angles.

Do video games cause violence? Feds want more research – The Centers for Disease Control is stepping up its efforts to research a possible link between fantasy video game violence and real-world violence. (A Kardashian driven culture  looks to video games as a scapegoat. Stupidity taken to the next level.)

Warning! Users will have to reinstall all apps if they opt for Windows 8.1 beta – Beginning June 26, users will be able to download the beta or preview version of Windows 8.1 fairly simply, via the Windows Store. But Microsoft officials confirm that upgrading to the final RTM build will include a gotcha—you’ll need to reinstall all of your apps.

Researchers create device that obscures unwanted photographs – We live in a time when cameras are in the hands of nearly every individual, as well as mounted in store corners, on top of utility poles, and more. Anyone can snap a picture of you when you’re in public, often without your knowledge, and concerns about privacy in this area are increasing as devices like Glass ramp up for public availability. To solve this issue, two researchers developed a device that senses and automatically obscures unwanted images.

ZeroDesktop hopes to spark mainstream change with $99 Android PC – At $99, the mini PC developed by thin-client expert Young Song is meant to be affordable. In fact, the price is so low, most consumers won’t hesitate to buy one, he said Wednesday. But unlike other mini PCs that run Windows, this one comes with Google’s Android OS installed, with the aim of shaking up the desktop market.

More than half of Americans own a smartphone. Now what? – Boosting smartphone ownership for low income earners and the elderly could be tough, analyst says.

Twitter Gives Web-Based TweetDeck a Makeover – Web-based social media dashboard TweetDeck got a boost today with new features an updated look.

Security:

Microsoft works with FBI to take down 1400 Citadel botnets – On TechNet today, Microsoft Digital Crime Unit’s Assistant General Counsel Richard Boscovich detailed the company’s involvement in helping take down over a thousand Citadel botnets, which are used to mine banking data, among other info. The work was done in conjunction with the FBI, members from within the financial industry, and “other technology industry partners.”

Google Ships 12 Security Patches in Latest Chrome Update – Google released a stable channel update for its Chrome browser yesterday, resolving 12 vulnerabilities, one of which one was considered ‘critical’, Google’s most severe rating, ten of which received second most severe ‘high’ ratings, and one receiving a third-in-line ‘medium’ rating.

Spyware sold to foreign governments aimed at U.S. woman critical of Turkish movement – A failed phishing attempt aimed at an unnamed woman openly critical of the Gülen Movement has revealed that spyware created for lawful intercept purposes is being used for illegal spying. If the attack was set up by the Turkish government, it would mean that it was doing what was explicitly forbidden to do as a NATO member: spying on a citizen of a fellow member state, on the fellow member’s soil, for a purpose that was not tied to a criminal or counter-terrorism investigation.

Internet-savvy Turkish protesters turn to anti-censorship apps – In the months leading up to the current protests in Turkey, its government has been censoring content on Twitter and Facebook, as well as throttling and blocking access to them, claim sources inside of the country. Anchorfree, the makers of the Hotspot Shield mobile app that allows users to use an untappable virtual private network to connect to sites that are censored by the local government, have said that more than 120,000 users from Turkey have downloaded the app over the weekend.

Malware increasingly uses peer-to-peer communications, researchers say – The number of malware samples that use P-to-P (peer-to-peer) communications has increased fivefold during the past 12 months, according to researchers from security firm Damballa. The largest contributors to this increase are advanced threats like ZeroAccess, Zeus version 3, and TDL4, said Stephen Newman, vice president of products at Damballa. However, there are also other malware families that adopted P-to-P as a command-and-control (C&C) channel recently, he said.

Apple Patches Mass of Security Bugs in OS X and Safari – Apple has updated both OS X and its Safari browser, fixing a pile of security vulnerabilities, many of which can be used for remote code execution. The release of OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.4 includes patches for more than 30 bugs, most notably a set of fixes for vulnerabilities in Ruby, some of which are being exploited at this point.

Company News:

Microsoft marks down Windows, kicks in free Office to spark tablet sales – Microsoft today confirmed what many analysts suspected, that it has cut prices of Windows 8 and Windows RT licenses to hardware partners building smaller-sized tablets as a way to drop device prices and juice sales. Analysts questioned whether the cuts are enough to dramatically lower tablet prices and spur sales, and were skeptical that Office would be a big draw for consumers, who purchase the bulk of tablets.

SoliCall to Release Novel Noise Reduction Software – SoliCall announced a novel technology for noise control in telephony – a personalized noise reduction software. This technology uses the registered voice print of the speaker in order to separate the ambient sounds and the speaker’s voice.

AMD breaks from Windows exclusivity, adopts Android and Chrome OS – After years of Windows OS exclusivity, Advanced Micro Devices is opening the door to design chips to run Google’s Android and Chrome OS in PCs and tablets. AMD is expanding OS options as it designs chips based on x86 and ARM architecture, which run multiple OSes, said Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of global business units at AMD, in an interview at the Computex trade show in Taiwan.

AMD Touts Big Leap in Graphics Performance With New Richland APUs – Advanced Micro Devices launches a new desktop APU which combines CPU and GPU performance in a single package that the chip maker says beats rival Intel hands down

Webopedia Daily:

Hybrid database – A relational database system that supports both in-memory and on-disk storage. Hybrid databases are typically deployed to retain the high performance and small database footprint advantages of in-memory databases while leveraging the durability and potential cost savings of on-disk databases.

Games and Entertainment:

Last of Us multiplayer looks like TF2 in 200 years – As “The Last of Us” hits shelves, so too does a multiplayer gameplay demonstration take place, this environment known as Factions. What you’ll be doing here is continuing the battle taken up in the original storyline presented in The Last of Us, only this time you’re part of a team that’s in direct combat for supplies – in one mode – with a team that’s controlled by another set of real-life human beings.

Review: Ticket to Ride brings train-centric chicanery to Android – Days of Wonders’ classic Ticket to Ride is a board game about trains. Lots of them: hundred of little plastic pieces to dole out amongst your friends. There are also cards to shuffle through, points to track, and a great big cardboard map of the United States to lay out on a table. Fortunately for us civilized (or friendless) folk, digital versions of the game have been kicking around online, on PC and on iOS devices, allowing us to build railroad empires without needing to dedicate much in the way of furniture. Now Ticket to Ride has finally arrived on Android devices in all its glory, and it’s still all rather fun.

GameStop expected to stop selling the Wii U Basic on June 18 – For the moment, both Nintendo and GameStop are refusing to comment as this classes as just a rumor, but one coming from a source Kotaku trusts in the retail chain (meaning they’ve been right before). If Nintendo is discontinuing the 8GB model, we’ll most likely find out on June 11 when a Nintendo Direct broadcast is planned.

Deep inside Ingress, the Google-made game that’s paving the way for Glass – Beneath this world, full of mundane work and chores and ho-hum everyday things, lies another layer of existence chock-full of wonderful, borderline mystical excitement. This almost alternative reality isn’t secret, per se—it’s just that most people don’t know how to really see it. This is the premise of Ingress, an invite-only gaming app favored by Android geekorati.

Off Topic (Sort of):

OrCam sees for the visually impaired, relays information via bone conduction – OrCam has created a system for the visually impaired that serves as a digital eye of sorts, attaching to a pair of glasses in a way somewhat similar to Google Glass’s design. Once attached, the camera serves as a third eye, monitoring the wearer’s surroundings to offer aid when needed. The accompanying software interprets what the camera sees.

The Megyn Kelly Effect: The Power of Women’s Voices – The Fox News anchor proved what research has also shown: Giving women a say in the debate makes it less sexist. The whole debate finally got an injection of sense on Friday from the Fox News host Megyn Kelly, whose smackdown of two of her male colleagues became an immediate Internet sensation. (recommended by Michael F.)

Researchers teach Wi-Fi to “see,” identify gestures – WiSee can detect arm and body motions anywhere in house, use them as commands. Unlike other “machine vision” sensors such as Microsoft’s Kinect, the system can sense gestures anywhere within a house or office environment using the Wi-Fi signals created by devices already in the environment. The user doesn’t need to be within line of sight of the WiSee receiver—or even in the same room.

Oldest primate fossil found: how these bones could be “evolutionary” – The creature newly discovered and named Archicebus achilles has become the latest world’s oldest primate fossil and may be shedding light on our evolutionary roots soon. In a paper published in Nature, the international weekly journal of science, researchers have made it clear that this find may help fill gaps in the fossil record regarding the earliest phases of primate evolution.

There is an enormous hole in the Sun – There is a very large hole in the Sun — large even for something that is sun-sized. So, we’re probably all going to die soon after the effects of the implosion catch up to Earth, right?

Today’s Quote:

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

–      Muhammad Ali

Today’s Free Downloads:

Hotspot Shield 2.90 – Hotspot Shield creates a virtual private network (VPN) between your laptop and the wireless router. This impenetrable tunnel prevents snoopers and hackers from viewing your email, instant messages, credit card information or anything else you send over a wireless network. Which means you remain anonymous and protect your privacy. Hotspot Shield security software is free to download, employs the latest VPN technology, and is easy to install and use.

SystemRescueCd 3.6.0 – SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash.

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