Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 14, 2013

Ask a hacker: Top four anti-surveillance apps – I asked not just one, but several hackers who work professionally in high-level security environments what the best anti-surveillance, pro-privacy phone apps are. What is on their phones? What should be on mine? After they finished laughing at my question (especially in light of the Prism revelations), I got solid answers.

Even before NSA scandal, US residents were anxious about privacy breaches – In a survey conducted just days before reports surfaced about widespread data collection by the U.S. National Security Agency, 85 percent of U.S. residents said they were worried about unauthorized access by the government and corporations to personal information like phone records, emails and Web activity.

Thousands of firms reportedly swap data with U.S. Agencies – Thousands of companies are providing intelligence organizations with data such as vulnerabilities and equipment specifications, sources tell Bloomberg. In some cases, companies like Microsoft might tip off the government to bug in its software before publicly releasing a fix, a process a Microsoft spokesperson said designed to be give government agencies “an early start” on assessing and mitigating the risk.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

EU ‘assessing U.S. relationship’ amid PRISM spying claims – In a letter obtained by ZDNet, the EU justice chief hints at consequences to come for the U.S. government if European citizens were targeted by the NSA’s PRISM program.

How to securely wipe sensitive files–or your entire hard drive – Even when you format a drive, the files are still there for those who want and know how to read them. If you want to truly and securely delete a file, or the contents of an entire drive, you need software that will overwrite the space where the file(s) once sat. Fortunately, several free programs can do this.

Java: A Fix it for when you cannot let go – If you only care about running Java desktop apps, there are a few mitigation steps that allow the customer to disable Java support inside your browser, leaving desktop functionality intact. These steps will remove a prevalent remote exploit vector, but at the same time keep Java installed for local applications. (recommended by Dave B.)

Your go-to app for live streaming videos – The official app for Ustream, one of the largest live-streaming platforms on the Web, makes it easy to watch video feeds of live events from your mobile device. More than that, though, the app lets you use your device’s camera to record, stream, and share video content of your own.

Microsoft defends Xbox One, says people don’t like change – Microsoft isn’t really all that interested in hearing your opinion about the new Xbox One console. Don’t like that it has to connect to the Internet once every 24 hours? Too bad. Upset about Redmond’s policy towards pre-owned games? Sorry, complaint box is full.

Twitter’s FollowMe creates highlight reels of your best tweeting moments – In an effort to help users gain more followers, Twitter has launched a feature called #FollowMe that allows users to create a short highlight reel that shows off their best tweets, photos, and Vine videos. It’s sort of like a resume to show other Twitter users that you’re worth following because of how hilarious you are, but don’t blame #FollowMe if no one likes your highlight reel.

Is Anyone Clicking on Your Twitter Links? Now You Can Find Out – If you’ve ever wondered how many people actually click on the links you post to Twitter, now you can find out. To take a peek, navigate to the gear icon atop the page on and select “Twitter Ads.” This will take you to the Twitter Advertising page, where there is a link labeled “Analytics” up top. Click that for a drop-down menu (above) that offers access to “Timeline activity” and “Followers.”

Street View sends you on a virtual vacation – Of the virtues of travel, Mark Twain once wrote, “The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad.” Google updated Maps on Thursday with 1,001 places previously not in Street View, from the wildlife of Singapore to the interiors of the concert halls of Canada to, yes, tours of the Mark Twain House and Mark Twain Museum in Hartford, Conn.

U.S. embassy Facebook video sparks anger from Pakistanis – After a video on how the U.S. ambassador spends his day off was posted to Facebook, hundreds of citizens take to the social network to voice their thoughts on the U.S. presence in Pakistan.

Foursquare Time Machine Feature Lets You Retrace Your Steps All Laser-Like – Now you can relive the thrill of the time you went from your house to a coffee shop to your job to a sandwich place to the grocery store to your house to a friend’s house to a bar and then back to your house. And you can watch yourself do it as though you’re a laser beam, zipping from Point A to Point Z and all points in between.


Malware masquerading as Bad Piggies found on Google Play – Security researchers discover an Android app called “Bad Pigs” that is nearly identical to Bad Piggies that asked users for permission to change settings and access personal information.

FDA calls on medical device makers to focus on cybersecurity – Medical device makers should take new steps to protect their products from malware and cyberattacks or face the possibility that U.S. Food and Drug Administration won’t approve their devices for use, the FDA said. The FDA issued new cybersecurity recommendations for medical devices on Thursday, following reports that some devices have been compromised.

Microsoft protects cloud with directory-integrated two-factor authentication – Microsoft is upping the security on Azure with Active Authentication, a new service now in preview which allows enterprises to secure access to hosted applications such as Office 365 with two-factor authentication.

The cybersecurity needs of the borderless enterprise – As the traditional security perimeter dissolves in a virtualized environment, organizations need a new cybersecurity framework and architecture.

Retailers are tracking you in hundreds of ways; here are three – Version 4.0 of RetailNext’s in-store analytics platform includes gender demographics, employee detection and full-floor heat maps. So the next time you’re walking through a store, don’t just smile — dance. You’re on candid camera, hundreds of times over.

Company News:

Microsoft will put Windows stores into 500 Best Buy locations – Train 1,200 evangelists. Build out 1,500-2,200-square-foot dedicated spaces. Will this help the masses accept Windows? We’ll see.

Boxee bought out insiders claim as Cloud DVR funding hunt fails – Boxee, the streaming media company that had attempted to recreate itself from an HTPC software specialist to a set-top box provider, has reportedly been acquired.

Red Hat bets its cloud future on OpenStack – The message coming out of Red Hat’s annual Red Hat Summit is that while Linux is Red Hat’s foundation, OpenStack is its future.

IBM in new round of layoffs – IBM has cut more than 1,600 employees and more layoffs are possible, according to an employee organization.

Symantec axing as many as 1,700 jobs, says report – The security solutions provider is cutting about 1,000 positions this month, and another 700 in July, according to a report. The company calls those numbers “pure speculation” but doesn’t share its own figures.

Google expected to sell $8.8B in mobile ads this year – Web giant expected to sell more mobile ads than all of its competitors put together for the second year in a row.

Webopedia Daily:

Virtualization-aware networks – Also known as VM-aware networks, virtualization-aware networks are powered by network switches that fully recognize and manage virtual machines (VMs). As a result, virtualization-aware networks enable data centers to efficiently configure and migrate virtual machines across the network as well as into the cloud while avoiding potential access or security issues. Whereas traditional network switches lack awareness of virtual machines, creating the potential for security and migration issues in virtualized environments, VM-aware network switches provide network configuration at a virtual port level, enabling the dynamic and automatic movement of VMs across the network.

Games and Entertainment:

The Swapper – The Swapper raises questions as quickly as it prompts you to solve them, pushing you each time in a surprising direction. You may solve the game in one long sitting or get stuck on a puzzle for hours, but either way, the ride is a compelling, thoughtful experience.

Hands On With Killer Instinct for the Xbox One – Killer Instinct represents the rebirth of a long-dormant fighting games series. Released during the height of the 1990s fighting game craze, Killer Instinct made waves due to its impressive 3D graphics, over-the-top announcer, combo breakers, and hard-hitting action. The new game keeps three of those elements very much intact.

The Dog from Call of Duty: Ghosts Is Incredible – The E3 demo for Call of Duty: Ghosts was straight from the cookie cutter. We heard a few opening remarks, from a dude who dispassionately stuck the word “epic” into as many sentences as possible, before he turned it over another another dude, who started lecturing us on nitty-gritty graphical trickery. Tesselation! Volumetric lighting! SubD, which is short for “sub-divide!” Snooze. But then came Dog, and suddenly this demo was so much better.

Last Light – Last Light takes you back to the post-apocalyptic Russian wasteland, employing an excellent soundtrack and bleak, desolate imagery to deliver a first-person shooter with surprising pathos and one of the most genuine game narratives in recent memory.

Scrolls (Beta) – While a bit on the pricey side, Scrolls delivers clever boardgame-style play on your computer and sidesteps the troubling aspects of in-game marketplaces to deliver some fantasy battle fun.

Off Topic (Sort of):

An open (of course) letter to my friend, the NSA – Let’s face it: This isn’t going to be the last time your secrets are aired to the public. It’s probably not even going to be the last time this year that your secrets are aired to the public by another Edward Snowden, because you’ve got countless Edward Snowdens on your payroll whose first—not last—instinct is to blow open your information infrastructure.

Smartphone apps that mimic birds are harmful, says Wildlife Trust – It is inevitable that technology and decidedly non-technological things will continue to merge as mobile devices and such become more powerful and less expensive. One such way this reality has manifested is birdsong apps, which are apps that play a specific type of bird’s song, luring them in for bird watchers or photographers to enjoy. According to the Wildlife Trust of Dorset, this is harmful, and it has issued a warning against it.

Robbery suspect asks NSA for phone records to prove his innocence – The revelation that the National Security Agency is collecting the phone records of Verizon customers wholesale has been called an outrage and a violation of the U.S. Constitution. But for one Florida man accused of robbery, the government’s data collection could provide a winning alibi.

Wanna tweet to aliens? Cold War dish to target deep space – Lone Signal is a crowdsourcing project to send signals to hypothetical aliens who live around a star that’s 17 light-years away. What could go wrong?

A supercell near Booker, Texas (video 1:55) – A rotating supercell. And not just a rotating supercell, but one with insane structure and amazing movement. (suggested by Michael F.)

New NYC bill would require 3D printed guns to be registered with police – On Wednesday, the New York city council introduced a new bill that would make it illegal to use a 3D printer “to create any firearm, rifle, shotgun, or any piece or part thereof,” without being a licensed gunsmith. And even the creator would be required to notify the New York Police Department and register the gun within 72 hours of completion.

New EU law mandates eCall in all new cars – Starting in October 2015, all new cars in the European Union would have to be fitted with an eCall device, according to new draft legislation announced Thursday. ECall technology installed in a car automatically dials 112—Europe’s single emergency number—when it detects a serious accident. It then sends information about the accident to rescue services, including the time of incident, the accurate position of the crashed vehicle and the direction of travel.

Today’s Quote:

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.”

–     Galileo Galilei

Today’s Free Downloads:

Free File Camouflage 1.0 – Want to save a copy of your personal file on a USB Pendrive but you are worried that, in case of theft, someone will be able to access your data? With Free File Camouflage you can hide your files inside a JPEG image! The software can be used with the main interface or via the explorer “send to” context menu (the first time you only need to select a directory with some images).

Speed Dial for Firefox – Speed Dial allows fast access to your most visited websites. It loads in a tab, and will show thumbnail views of its assigned websites. Those thumbnails will be refreshed automatically in the background.

FotoSketcher 2.45 – FotoSketcher is a 100% free program which can help you convert your digital photos into art, automatically. If you want to turn a portrait, the photograph of your house or a beautiful landscape into a painting, a sketch or a drawing then look no further, FotoSketcher will do the job in just a few seconds.



Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 14, 2013

  1. FotoSketcher may be a nice program and, it may also be free but, despite a custom install and declining the various offers made during the programs install, I still would up with the FotoSketcher Community Toolbar.
    I used adwcleaner ( ) to remove the toolbar and then uninstalled it from the Programs and Features section in Windows 8.
    Know in advance that this is one of the programs where no, isn’t respected.
    It’s still an interesting program.

    • Hi Bob,

      I was unable to duplicate your results despite 3 installs on 3 different machines. Nor did I find any Internet references which indicated that this application ignores a user’s preferences during the install process.