Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 18, 2013

Whistleblower Snowden Rails Against ‘Litany of Lies’ from US Leaders – NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden answered a wide range of questions during a live chat today on the Guardian UK newspaper website. Snowden said a “continuing litany of lies” from senior U.S. leaders prompted his public uncovering of widespread surveillance of Americans’ phone calls and alleged data sharing between large technology companies and the government.

Obama: NSA spying doesn’t mean ‘abandoning freedom’ – In an interview with Charlie Rose, the president maintains that the top-secret NSA spying programs were within the bounds of the law and were intended to protect U.S. citizens.

The NSA’s Surveillance Will Devastate Commerce – What foreign government, agency, or corporation in its right mind would buy Microsoft Office 360, for instance, if it suspects that every memo written will float up to the Microsoft/NSA cloud to be scrutinized by some “analyst” for unknown reasons. And Google Docs is no better. What overseas idiot would use any of these services? Who would create a Facebook account? Who would use any American instant messaging system?

Apple keeps up PRISM denials, but do read between the lines! – Apple continues to deny that it’s involved in the NSA’s PRISM program. In its latest carefully-worded missive, it again says it’s never heard of PRISM, but does admit to having helped Police find some missing kiddies. So that’s OK then. Nothing to see here.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

It’s Official: Nook Tablets Are Now Ridiculously Cheap – The bookselling behemoth is extending a Father’s Day special — it’s still a “limited time” offer, though with no specified end — which leaves the Nook HD and HD+ with prices that are ridiculously cheap even for cheap tablets. The 7-in. (17.8 cm) Nook HD, normally $199, is now $129; the 9-in. (23 cm) Nook HD+ has plummeted from $269 to $149.

Why your smartphone battery hates Twitter and Facebook – To paraphrase the saying about paranoia: just because you’re obsessed with battery life doesn’t mean that data-hungry apps aren’t out to drain you.

5 free remote desktop apps for Windows 8 – Remote desktop apps let you log on to your PC or tablet and access a faraway computer as if you were there in person. Here are 5 options for Windows 8 slates and PCs. Read on to find which app is the best fit for your business.

Proposed e-license plates can be altered remotely and may be used to track you – The “e-tags” would make it easy for drivers to switch plate numbers as a car changes hands, or they could be used to display messages to the public such as “SUSPENDED,” “UNINSURED,” or “STOLEN.” The e-tags, which are accessed via cellular network, could—in theory—also be used to track a car’s whereabouts.

New DRM Will Change the Words in Your E-Book – German researchers have created a new DRM feature that changes the text and punctuation of an e-book ever so slightly. Called SiDiM, which Google translates to “secure documents by individual marking,” the changes are unique to each e-book sold. These alterations serve as a digital watermark that can be used to track books that have had any other DRM layers stripped out of them before being shared online. (suggested by Michael F.)

How to turn a Raspberry Pi into a portable Tor proxy (Onion Pi) – We all know that Prism is most likely just the tip of the snooping iceberg. While some of us may run Tor on our PC or Mac, there may be times when when we are working on a device that is not our own, or perhaps even a Chromebook, tablet or phone.

Skype launches video messaging to all users – Baked into Skype’s mobile and desktop apps, the new video-messaging feature has emerged from beta mode and is now available for everyone.

Starbucks offers in-store free Google Play Music All Access streaming – This evening on the Google Play Google+ page, Google announced free Play Music All Access streaming for customers at Starbucks, who are now presented with a banner advising them of the free music streaming. Of course, the service is already available for anyone to try for free, and whether this promotion will extend beyond the regular trial period is yet unknown.

‘Hell is Other People’: Anti-social media to keep you alone – Need a break from your Foursquare friends? Web app dubbed “an experiment in anti-social media” creates safe zones to help you avoid them.

Five apps to make the Linux desktop business-ready – If you’re still one of those who think it not possible to conduct your everyday business from Linux, I’m here to tell you those days are over. With the help of five applications, you can enjoy the power, stability, reliability, flexibility, and security of Linux. You’ll be surprised how common these tools are. Let’s take a look.


BlackBerry security advisory details critical bug on Z10 phones – BlackBerry has issued a security advisory to customers who have purchased the company’s Z10 smartphone—the flagship device of BlackBerry’s relaunch in February. A bug in the system designed to help users find their lost cell phone could be used to gain access to the phone, either physically or over Wi-Fi. The bug isn’t in the BlackBerry 10 OS itself, but in the BlackBerry Protect application.

Body scanner ruling could squelch NSA domestic spying – Electronic Privacy Information Center organizes request by leading technologists to halt National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance. They’re trying a novel argument from a 2011 lawsuit.

School iris-scanned students without telling parents – A Florida school admits that it made several mistakes when it allowed a security company to install iris scanners without telling parents — and without even having a contract with the company.

How Police Use Facial Recognition Software to Identify You – This may sound like a terrible plot from an episode (every episode?) of CSI: Miami. But it’s also happening every day in police departments across the country. According to the Washington Post, police officers in 26 states are empowered to use facial recognition software in conjunction with a database of driver’s license photos to track down witnesses, verify IDs, and learn more about potential suspects. Over 120 million Americans appear in these facial recognition systems nationwide.

Microsoft swaps linked accounts for aliases – In the name of enhanced security, the tech giant is having users tie their linked e-mail and other accounts to one single Microsoft account.

Company News:

Google adds more retailers for Chromebook – Google’s Chromebook laptop will be carried by over 6,600 stores around the world, as the company signs on more retailers. Starting Monday, Walmart is offering an Acer Chromebook, which has a 16GB Solid State Drive, in about 2,800 stores across the U.S. for US$199, while from this weekend, Staples will offer Chromebooks from Acer, Hewlett-Packard and Samsung Electronics in its over 1,500 stores in the country.

Kazam startup launched by former HTC executives to offer “robust” smartphones – There are some industries where getting a handful of marketshare is an uphill battle, with the world of smartphones being one such example. That hasn’t stopped HTC’s former header of sales Michael Coombes, and HTC’s former marketing head in the United Kingdom, Jame Atkins, from launching their own smartphone-centric startup, Kazam. The business aims to provide smartphones for the European market.

Google settles shareholder lawsuit over company control – Settlement should clear the way for the Web giant to issue a new class of nonvoting shares, ensuring that the founders’ majority control isn’t diluted.

Sprint sues Dish, Clearwire to prevent $6B takeover bid – The No. 3 wireless carrier filed a lawsuit Monday against the two companies in Delaware Court of Chancery, alleging that Dish’s tender offer violates the rights of Sprint and Clearwire’s shareholders and the laws of the state of Delaware. The lawsuit seeks to prevent Clearwire from accepting Dish’s tender offer, as well as other injunctive and compensatory relief.

Webopedia Daily:

Microsoft Operations Manager – Abbreviated as MOM, Microsoft Operations Manager is a network monitoring application that provides event and performance management, application monitoring and reporting features for the enterprise. It helps improve the availability, performance, and security of Windows networks and applications, while reducing the complexity associated with managing today’s IT infrastructure environment and lowering the cost of operations.

Games and Entertainment:

The 10 Best Racing Games – Fancy a race? Whether you’re looking to unleash your inner petrolhead and tinker with mechanics, or just hop into a shiny gas guzzler and knock out a few laps, we’ve got you covered with the best racing games we’ve played in the last few years.

Great gig in the cloud: Full remastered Pink Floyd discography lands on Spotify – That didn’t take long. Four days after Spotify promised to bring the Pink Floyd discography to its music service if—and only if—the classic track “Wish You Were Here” was streamed one million times, the company announced Monday that the milestone was shattered. All the Pink Floyd tunes you could ever want are now available to soothe your savage breast over on or via the Spotify desktop application.

Xbox One banned users can still keep purchased games – So many questions about the Xbox One have been asked over the past month or so since Microsoft unveiled the new console. Granted, they were pretty vague on a lot of concerns, and we received different answers from different reps on some questions. The latest question to go around is how will banned Xbox One users be dealt with?

Has Microsoft gone too far with the Xbox One? – Has Microsoft gone too far with its long-awaited Xbox One? Is the next-gen console Redmond’s hardware version of Vista?

Off Topic (Sort of):

Miss Alabama’s beautiful confusion about NSA surveillance – During the Miss USA pageant, Alabama’s representative showed how difficult the core ideas behind surveillance methods are to grasp.

Raise and eat your own bugs from this tabletop terrarium – With growing drought and an inefficient agricultural system (not to mention the world’s bees careening for extinction), there are fears that someday soon, there will no longer be enough meat-based protein to keep the world from going hungry.

How does world’s oldest water taste? ‘Terrible.’ – The ancient water, trapped in thin fissures in granite-like rock, has been bubbling up from a zinc and copper mine for decades in Timmins, Ontario. Only recently have scientists been able to calculate the age of this water and determine that it is the oldest ever discovered — possibly as old as 2.6 billion years, when Earth was less than half its current age. And it may harbor life. (suggested by Michael F.)

NASA Curiosity rover blasts Mars rock with laser 100 times – We’ve seen NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover bore into Martian rock with a small drill multiple times, but the robot has just taken things to the next level: lasers. Specifically, the rover got to bore a small hole into Martian rock by blasting it with a laser repeatedly, causing a hole a few millimeters in diameter, which you can see after the jump.

Kone’s lightweight UltraRope to make 1km high elevators a reality – Finnish company Kone is set to double the height elavators inside skyscrapers can travel with a revolutionary new rope that is up to 90 percent lighter than the existing industry standard.

100 Best Places to Work in IT 2013 – Stellar benefits, challenging projects and top-notch training keep IT workers focused and engaged at these top employers. Find out more in our 20th annual report.

Something to think about:

It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.”

–   Thomas Paine – The Age of Reason

Today’s Free Downloads:

PRTG – Free Network Monitor – PRTG Network Monitor ensures the availability of network components while also measuring traffic and usage.

Spotify – Any track you like, any time you like. Just search for it in Spotify, then play it. Any artist, any album, any genre – all available instantly.

TSR Watermark Image – TSR Watermark Image software can add digital watermarks to all your images, photos and pictures with the transparency you decide.



Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

16 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 18, 2013

  1. D. McDade

    NOT available in Canada!

    • Hey D. McDade,

      What’s NOT available in Canada?

      A point to consider – this blog is NOT a Canadian blog. The Internet has NO national boundaries. In fact, this blog is read in more than 200 countries. It’s logical to assume that ALL the news here is NOT applicable EVERYWHERE.

      New to the Internet are you?


  2. Dave B.

    In re: NSA spying doesn’t mean ‘abandoning freedom’; Ahh yes, the old guise of spying on US citizens to protect them, the sad part is there are citizens in the US that actually believe that BS.

    • Hey Dave,

      Unfortunately, you’re not alone down there. We have the same set of “I’ve got nothing to hide” morons up here.

      The thinking man/woman is virtually an extinct species in North America.



  3. Fred

    “Obama: NSA spying doesn’t mean ‘abandoning freedom’”
    From Orwell’s ‘1984’
    Down in the street the wind flapped the torn poster to and fro, and the word INGSOC fitfully appeared and vanished. Ingsoc. The sacred principles of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past. He felt as though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in a monstrous world where he himself was the monster. He was alone. The past was dead, the future was unimaginable. What certainty had he that a single human creature now living was on his side? And what way of knowing that the dominion of the Party would not endure FOR EVER? Like an answer, the three slogans on the white face of the Ministry of Truth came back to him:

    • Hi Fred,

      Nice pickup. It’s hard to disagree, isn’t it?

      It seems that 1984 has been used as a “Training Manual” by governments worldwide. On the other hand, these same morons have apparently forgotten that history shows us that people eventually rebel when subjected to crushing restrictions on their freedom. When that happens – and it will – these bastards better have a DEEP hole to crawl into. They’re going to need it.



  4. delenn13

    Hey Bill,

    Free game for 48 hours from

    “#NoDRM Summer: Get Torchlight FREE for 48 hours!

    Every user can grab a free copy of Torchlight until Thursday, June 20, at 12:59PM GMT.

    The title says it all: to celebrate the beginning of our phenomenal 2013 #noDRM Summer Sale, we’re giving away the hack-and-slash masterpiece Torchlight for absolutely free to all of our users, for both Windows and Mac. You have exactly 48 hours to grab your copy of that incredibly fun and addicting action-RPG, complete with a level editor and a sensational MP3 soundtrack. No strings attached, and–of course–absolutely #NoDRM!”

    News – #NoDRM Summer: Get Torchlight FREE for 48 hours! –


    “Torchlight. A booming mining town that grew up around unbelievably rich veins of Ember, that rare ore with the power to enchant–or corrupt–everything it touches. It’s a powerful thing, and everyone knows power, well. Power can corrupt, too. You’ll set out into the nearby mountains and depths below to discover the full extent of Ember’s influence on the civilizations that have come before.

    Choose from among three character classes, and venture from the safety of the town of Torchlight into randomly generated dungeon levels, with a huge variety of creepy monsters, endless variations of loot to find, and quests to complete. The endless randomization ensures that you’ll never be playing the same game twice. A fun, crunchy action-RPG, this one game that oozes style, care, and polish out of every single pixel and is a definite must to pick up if you like RPGs or just having some mindless fun.”

    • Hey Delenn13,

      Pretty cool!

      Did a Wiki search on this – a definite keeper. Posted it into today’s TNN.

      Keep on truckin’ with your recos – they’re always worthwhile. You know we appreciate it. 🙂



  5. delenn13

    Hey Bill,

    I keep reading/hearing about some “secret court” that decides about the data. The NSA and Secret Courts | LiveScience Who are these people? When and where do they meet? Is this one of those “if we tell you, we have to kill you” thingies?

    I guess this rings true…Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead. Benjamin Franklin