Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 25, 2013

Facebook’s dossiers on everyone: ‘Frightening’ – Facebook’s shadow profile data collection activities came to light Friday when the social network disclosed a bug fix. The security researchers who found the vulnerability, Packet Storm Security, say Facebook is compiling “frightening” dossiers on everyone possible, including people without Facebook accounts.

Australia temporarily halts PRISM-like data collection plans – The plan, according to Reuters, was for the Australian government to strong-arm ISPs and telecom companies into storing call logs and emails for two years. Other reports show the inclusion of Internet and related activities.

Snowden: NSA hacked China telcos, submarine cable network firm – Former NSA contractor reportedly provided documents pointing to the U.S. government hacking of major Chinese telcos, Internet submarine cable giant Pacnet, and Chinese research institute Tsinghua University.

Shielding mesh networks from prying government eyes – Employing a mesh network configuration allows users to form their own networks without a centralized infrastructure – making them inherently resistant to censorship, surveillance and disruption.

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Six ways to share your exact location with family (and why) – Keep an eye on your friends and family members’ whereabouts with these helpful Android apps.

Children’s Games Harvesting Data – Dangerous Android apps aren’t always the ones that infect user mobile devices with malware, or the ones that signs you up for rogue services you don’t want. The apps that expose personal data are just as risky, and this week’s list looks at apps that expose user data without explicit consent.

Wi-Fi tweaks for speed freaks: 2013 edition – Things slowing down on your Wi-Fi network? Here are a host of tricks, tips and tweaks to speed up your wireless performance.

eXo Cloud Brings eXo Platform 4 Online: Full Featured, Open Source Enterprise Social Platform – eXo, the Enterprise Social Platform company, today opened access to eXo Cloud. Built on the experience acquired with its previous SaaS offering, Cloud Workspaces, eXo Cloud offers online, instant access to all the features of eXo Platform 4. It integrates social and enterprise collaboration features in a single on-demand offering. This release of eXo Cloud is offered free of charge, and users can sign up for accounts here.

How to Block Numbers on Your Smartphone for Free – Robocalls, telemarketers, clingy exes and more: Here’s how to block calls.

Get more out of Google Earth with these tips for power users – Google Earth users can do more than just fly around a virtual globe. The free mapping application can display real-time weather, help compose photographs and measure distances much more easily than its Maps cousin.

Linux Mint 15 KDE ‘Olivia’ now available – The release candidate for Linux Mint 15 ‘Olivia’ running the KDE desktop is available to download.

South Tyrol shows love for LibreOffice, ditches Microsoft on thousands of PCs – LibreOffice has got a vote of confidence from South Tyrol. Over the course of the next three years, the government plans on replacing Microsoft Office on 7,000 machines with the open source alternative, saving up to €600,000 in licensing costs.

Microsoft to “sanitize” Bing for school use – Students across the country will soon be using a cleaned up version of Microsoft’s search engine ecosystem Bing, devoid (or so they hope) of content they’re not especially fond of sending out to under-age citizens of the USA.

Hands on with AOL Reader, another opportunistic response to Google’s RSS vacancy – While the tech world speculates on what form a rumored Facebook news reader might take, AOL on Monday rolled out a beta version of its Google Reader replacement. AOL Reader joins offerings from Digg and Feedly in the effort to fill the hole left by Google’s soon-to-be-shuttered feed reader, which shuts down for good next Monday.

How to safely remove a USB drive even when Windows says it isn’t safe to do so – If you simply pull an external drive out of a running computer, you’re asking for trouble. You might lose files, crash applications, or even ruin everything on the computer. But removing it safely isn’t always as easy as it should be.

GIMP – The venerable open-source image editor with the goofy name updates to version 2.8.6, fixing an issue with saving to URIs and increasing the max size of brushes and patterns.

Sync two iPhones on one computer – Learn how to share a computer between two iOS devices while keeping your content separate and private.

Windows 8.1 is a winner, but PC sales will plummet, says Gartner – Microsoft is caught in the ultimate good news/bad news syndrome: Windows 8.1 will likely fix Windows 8’s woes, but PC sales will still take a nose dive. So says two recent Gartner reports, and they may well be right.

Security:

Fake Android antivirus app holds phones hostage for $100 – Like its annoying desktop cousins, Android Defender Platinum pretends to scan your device for malware. Inevitably, a slew of infections are found and you’re urged to pay for an activation key.

Cybercrooks target SMBs with new types of attacks – When a large company is attacked it is terrible. When a small company is attacked it is often a death knell.

Phishing attacks impacted 37.3 million users last year – Yahoo!, Google, Facebook and Amazon are top targets of malicious users. Online game services, online payment systems, and the websites of banks and other credit and financial organizations are also common targets, but also email services, social networks, online stores and auction venues, blogs, IT company websites, and telecom operator websites.

Raspberry Pi bot tracks hacker posts to vacuum up passwords and more – Password and credit-card details leak online every day. So no one really knows just how much personally identifiable information is available by clicking on the right link to Pastebin, Pastie, or similar sites. Using a platform that runs on the hobbyist Raspberry Pi platform to drink from this fire hose, a security researcher has cataloged more than 3,000 such posts in less than three months while adding scores more each week.

Company News:

Snapchat grabs $60M after worth valued at $800M – Investors are betting that the 2-year-old company, famous for disposable social-media moments, is here to stay.

BlackBerry launches BES 10 Secure Work Space for Android and iOS – Some companies require workers to use company cell phones reserved for business purposes only, which has pros and cons. Others allow employees to utilize their own device, which also presents its own pluses and minuses, the biggest draw being the mixture of personal and work information and apps. For the latter type of company, BlackBerry has created Secure Work Space, which allows devices on the network to be managed. Today that service has gone live for iOS and Android.

ZDNet introduces India edition, writers – Supported by a dedicated team of writers based in Bangalore and New Delhi, ZDNet adds India edition to its portfolio to provide news and insights for ZDNet readers–both local and global.

Sony and Disney trial online rentals while films are still in theaters – If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of this magical movie watching experience, it’s because it is only being offered in South Korea. Django Unchained, Wreck-it Ralph, and Brave have been offered for early rental thus far.

Walmart lowers iPhone 4S price to $39, iPhone 5 to $129 – Until last week a 16GB iPhone 4S on contract (with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon) purchased at Walmart stores cost you $90. That has now been reduced to just $39. If that handset is looking pretty ancient to you then there’s the 16GB iPhone 5 instead. It was $190, but Walmart has slashed the price down to $129 provided you sign up for a contract.

Microsoft invests nearly $700 million in Iowa data center to bolster online services – Microsoft is investing $678 million in the expansion of its data center in West Des Moines, Iowa, to bolster online offerings such as Xbox Live and Office 365.

Microsoft, Oracle join forces to stomp on cloud rivals – “Frenemies” Microsoft and Oracle just cemented a new partnership. Here’s what is really new and worth knowing about the alliance.

Webopedia Daily:

FaceTime – A video telephone / video chat service somewhat similar to Skype and Google Hangouts that makes it possible to conduct one-on-one video calls between newer Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac notebooks and desktops. Apple’s FaceTime service is free to use but does require an Apple ID and a Wi-Fi connection, although future versions of FaceTime may also work over 3G and/or 4G connections, and several apps are currently available that make FaceTime over a 3G connection possible on a jailbroken iPhone.

Games and Entertainment:

Play Pac-Man as a first-person horror game – The hungry ghosts of Pac-Man become a lot more frightening when you experience it like a first-person shooter game.

Age of Empires coming to iOS and Android: first of many Microsoft titles – This week the folks at Microsoft Studios have made their intentions with classic games from the golden age of PC gaming clear: it’s time to go mobile. The first title to be moving to both Apple’s mobile operating system iOS and Google’s Android will be the castle defense game Age of Empires.

What to expect from Battlefield 4′s Frostbite 3 engine – Regardless of your feelings toward shooters or Electronic Arts, Battlefield 4 has looked mighty impressive every time it’s been shown off. The E3 Microsoft Xbox One keynote may have tricked you into thinking BF4 was a first-person boat shooter, but this spotlight trailer for the Frostbite 3 engine shows you that, yes, while there is plenty of FPBS to go around, the game can handle much more than that.

The Silent Age Mysteriously Appears on Android – The Silent Age proceeds at a leisurely pace. If you’ve ever played the classic adventure game Out of this World, The Silent Age has a very similar vibe. Joe has to travel between his present and the future to solve the mystery and save everyone that will ever exist. The gameplay is as good as any point-and-click game on a mobile device.

‘Game of Thrones’ Tops List of Spring’s Most Pirated TV Shows – There were an estimated 5.2 million downloads of Game of Thrones via BitTorrent, but as TorrentFreak noted, that doesn’t cover online streaming and cyberlocker downloads, so actual pirate levels could be much higher. The show had about 5.5 million U.S. TV viewers during the season, which ran from March to June.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Rusty the red panda was lost and found on Twitter – While on the lam, the cute little panda bear sent the Twitter-sphere into a frenzy with trending hashtags and more than 65,000 mentions, which helped lead to his capture

NeverWet: What Kind of Strange, Sick and Wonderful Water-Repelling Voodoo Is This? – If you watch one video today, watch this video. You won’t be sorry.

Supermoon shots from across the globe (pictures) – From the Canary Islands to Finland to China, Crave readers and other luna-tics captured the full moon at perigee over the weekend.

Pink Floyd to Pandora: Shut up, you crazy cubic zirconium – In an open letter to Pandora, three members of the rock band decry the notion that they (or anyone) should accept an 85 percent reduction in royalties.

Medieval book in unknown language contains message – The Voynich Manuscript has eluded every attempt at deciphering. But new computerized statistical analysis suggests it has a genuine message and is not a hoax.

Woman sues doc for revealing her nose job on clinic site – A New York woman believes she is hurt to the degree of $23 million after her “before” and “after” images are used on her doctor’s Web site.

Reminder: You Can Learn Anything on the Internet – When developing countries get their hands on the profound power of having the Internet in their pocket, it will not transform how they work, play, and learn — it will revolutionize it.

Something to think about:

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.”

–     Dale Carnegie

Today’s Free Downloads:

Free Video Call Recorder for Skype – Free Video Call Recorder for Skype is an absolutely free application for recording Skype calls without any limitations. It has a very simple interface. You just need to specify the mode you like, choose the output folder and press “Start”. If you don’t want to record some moments during the conversation, just click on “Pause”. In order to finish the record select “Stop”.

RarZilla Free Unrar 5.10 – RarZilla Free Unrar is a beautiful decompression tool for RAR-archives that supports spanned archives as well as the extraction of password protected files. Decompression can be started by drag ‘n’ drop, double click or shell integrated context menu. To speed the whole process up, RarZilla has the option to define a default output folder or a default password or both. RarZilla includes instructions in over 50 languages.

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