Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 27, 2013

FTC wants to let Internet users see the data that the NSA can get – In light of the quiet data transfers happening between technology companies and the government, the Federal Trade Commission is proposing an “industrywide initiative” that would give customers access to the information a company has on them, according to a report from the New York Times. The initiative, called “Reclaim Your Name,” would increase the transparency of what data is not only held by companies, but what is shared between them.

Meet PRISM’s little brother: Socmint: A secretive unit is developing tools for blanket surveillance of social media – For the past two years, a tight-lipped and little talked about unit within the Metropolitan Police has been conducting blanket surveillance of British citizens’ public social media conversations. Following an unintentional leak and a detailed investigation, we are finally able to see some of the capabilities of this 17-man team—some of which are truly alarming.

Following Google, Microsoft also challenges DOJ gag order – Software giant argues that U.S. government restrictions on what it can disclose constitute a “content-based restriction on speech.”

5 super-useful Android features you probably don’t know about – Android has become much more user-friendly in recent years, but there are still all manner of cool features lurking under that veneer of usability.

15 free Google Reader alternatives – Don’t get left in the dark when Google Reader shuts its doors on July 1. Check out this list of free alternatives that will let you continue to keep tabs on the news you need.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to add USB 3.0 to your desktop PC – If you’ve purchased an external hard drive recently, there’s a good chance it came with a USB 3.0 interface. That’ll work with your old desktop, as most USB 3.0 devices are backward-compatible with USB 2.0 ports. The problem is you’re not enjoying the significant speed benefits afforded by the newer technology. So what’s the solution? Buy a new machine? Nah: just upgrade your current one. Turns out it’s pretty easy to add USB 3.0 ports to a desktop, provided you can meet two simple requirements.

Infographic: The Future Is in the Cloud – A new infographic from Seagate chronicles the cloud’s growing role in content storage.

Google Search for Android gets a new voice command and more – Today’s update to the Google Search app for Android brings music playback via voice command, as well as a few other nifty features.

Android invades the desktop – and why not? – Computer makers are suddenly obsessed with putting a smartphone operating system on PCs. Here’s why it’s not such a crazy idea.

Where are all the Android laptops? – PC OEMs seem obsessed with making complicated, high-cost, Windows 8-baed devices. Why are none of them trying to make cheap Android laptops? – PC OEMs seem obsessed with making complicated, high-cost, Windows 8-baed devices. Why are none of them trying to make cheap Android laptops?

Windows 8.1 download portals appear official (Preview, that is) – If you’re itching to get a piece of what Windows 8.1 has to offer, the time has arrived – for some users, at least. The restrictions placed on this particular release are centered on MSDN subscribers and TechNet subscribers at this very moment. The public download portal, on the other hand, is not quite open at the moment – but feel free to hit refresh until your monitor sees the big push.

Cloudsweeper tells you how much your Gmail is worth to a hacker – The value of your data is the driving force behind much of the malware and malicious behavior on the internet. If an attacker can gain access to a store of information, it can be sold off piece by piece until the evildoer has a pocket full of cash, and you have a massive headache to deal with. A new tool called Cloudsweeper aims to help you figure out how much your Gmail account is worth, and make it less valuable at the same time.

Toxic Facebook Friends: Tolerate, Hide or Defriend – Here’s how to stay sane when you’re surrounded by insane friends.

Free and portable Briss cuts PDFs down to size – Briss is a good program to trim and crop PDF files so they fit better on your e-reader and are easier to read.

Who said that? Social network launched for anonymous users – Want to anonymously post your ideas and opinions on a social network? You can. The Duvamis social network went was launched late last month with a mission of keeping the identity of its posters from other users — and site operators. The company says that anonymity allows its users to express themselves freely, ignoring social or peer pressure.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 appears with 5,000 Windows 8.1 APIs – If you had any doubt that Windows 8.1 would be bringing on a large variety of functionality bits to the developer universe, Microsoft’s announcement of Visual Studio 2013 should put all worries to rest. This developer ecosystem allows prospective Windows 8.1 app developers to create new software inside the system itself, bringing on a massive amount of diagnostic tools as well as a 5,000 new APIs for integration with new creations of all sorts.

Security:

Perfect Forward Secrecy can block the NSA from secure web pages, but no one uses it – Every lock has a key and outlook.com has a HUGE MASTER KEY. Anyone in possession of this master key can read the encrypted HTTPS pages. All of them. Every single encrypted web page that has ever been transmitted by outlook.com to millions of former Hotmail users can be decrypted with a single master key. Of course, to read them all, you have to collect them all. This may not be a problem for the NSA. It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a server option called Perfect Forward Secrecy that eliminates the single master decryption key. (Michael Horowitz does a masterful job of breaking down a complex issue into it’s components. If security is your thing – this is a must read.)

HP enterprise storage systems suffer ‘secret’ admin account flaw – The computer and server maker is working hard on a fix to a security flaw in one of its enterprise systems, which could allow unauthorized access to corporate data.

Firefox 22 delivers 14 security updates – Mozilla released Firefox 22, which includes 14 security updates: four are critical, six high, three moderate and one low.

Facebook breach highlights data security’s “weakest link” syndrome – Facebook recently disclosed that a system glitch resulted in the exposure of sensitive personal data from as many as six million users. The impact from this particular breach seems relatively inconsequential, but it’s a sign of a larger problem when it comes to protecting personal data on the Web.

Study Finds Nearly Half of iOS Apps Violate Apple’s Privacy Policy – A recent study by the University of California, San Diego suggests that nearly half of all iOS applications still use UDIDs in violation of Apple’s own privacy policy.

Creepy Facebook apps mine your profile for bikini shots, break-ups – Because the base Facebook experience isn’t creepy enough…

Company News:

Microsoft teases ‘Office Lite’ for Windows’ touch UI – Microsoft today briefly previewed an Office application designed for the Windows “Modern,” née “Metro,” user interface, and said it would launch the touch-enabled suite next year.

Dish drops bid for Clearwire, ending brutal bidding war – Dish Network Wednesday dropped its offer to buy Clearwire, probably clearing the path for a strengthened Sprint Nextel to complete its takeover of the struggling but spectrum-rich mobile operator.

Quark tightening upgrade policy for XPress publishing program – Anticipating an August release date for QuarkXPress 10, Quark will soon tighten its upgrade policy for users of earlier versions of its professional design and layout software. As of June 30, Quark is putting an end to its liberal one-price promotion, which let users of any version of QuarkXPress upgrade to the current version 9, and allowed users of version 9 to upgrade to version 10 for free.

Cloud Security Alliance Announces Keynote Presentations and Sessions for 4th Annual CSA Congress – In addition to offering best practices and practical solutions for remaining secure in the cloud, this year’s CSA Congress will focus on emerging areas of growth and concern in cloud security, including standardization, transparency of controls, mobile computing, Big Data in the cloud and innovation. The conference will also offer a Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) Foundation program providing attendees with a comprehensive one-day review of cloud security fundamentals in preparation for the Cloud Security Alliance CCSK exam.

Kickstarter Project Poppy Turns iPhone Into 3D Video Camera – Two Seattle entrepreneurs today launched a Kickstarter campaign for Poppy, a View-Master-like contraption that turns any iPhone into a 3D camera.

Apple’s ads failing, says firm that called Surface ads effective – Ace Metrix, a company that likes to think it knows how to measure TV ad effectiveness, says Apple’s new ads are not a success with consumers.

Samsung curved OLED TV goes on sale – Samsung has launched its first curved OLED TV on the market, a $13,000 slab of 55-inched flexed entertainment, which the company claims will unlock a new market of premium picture quality chasers. The set also debuts Samsung’s “Flawless TV” promise, which commits to zero bad pixels on each screen.

Webopedia Daily:

Flame (malware) – An extremely sophisticated strain of malware that shares similarities with Stuxnet, although Flame is much more massive in terms of complexity and size, at 30MB or larger when all modules have been installed vs. Stuxnet’s 500KB. Also known as Flamer or Skywiper, Flame was discovered by Kaspersky Lab following a significant increase in infected systems in Iran and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa over the past two years.

Games and Entertainment:

Gamemakers rejoice: Havok releases free Project Anarchy game development engine – Middleware developer Havok has finally released Project Anarchy, a game creation tool that’ll allow you to develop games for iOS, Android, and Tizen mobile platforms—free of charge. For budding game developers, this could be huge: Havok’s pedigree coupled with free tools could serve up some real competition for the mobile development landscape.

Video game tech steers this roach – North Carolina State University researchers are using video game technology to remotely control cockroaches on autopilot, with a computer steering the cockroach through a controlled environment.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Big data: Two truths and five myths – Along with the hype, the concept of big data comes with its own collection of misconceptions and half-truths that one CTO is keen to dispel.

18 Blogs Explain Brain Breaks and Why they are Important – As an adult, you’ve likely experienced a time when you’ve been in a training session or a meeting and felt like you were at a breaking point and couldn’t focus any longer. The same thing happens to kids, but on a daily basis. Kids sit through several hours of instruction every day, and it’s not unusual for them to ‘space out’ throughout the day, taking a mini-break without even meaning to. In these 18 blog entries you’ll find out about what brain breaks are, why they are important and how you can implement them with your kids.

Pure electricity: At the wheel in seven electric cars – Electric cars are a quickly growing segment, and we’ve driven and evaluated the majority of new entrants on the market. Here, we round up our seven most recent electric car reviews.

Worried about accidentally 3D printing a gun? – New software will prevent it. Danish firm selling to printer makers will include firearm detection capability.

3D printing produces new foot for Buttercup the duck – Two fully working feet on a duck are important for both walking around and being able to swim properly. So when Buttercup was born with a backwards left foot, his prospects weren’t great. Not only did his disfigured foot make walking difficult and painful, it also meant cuts and therefore infections were a concern.

Shark-repellant rash guard makes you look unappetizing – A new rash guard shirt takes an unusual approach to warding off sharks by making the wearer look like a venomous sea creature.

Something to think about:

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”

–     Ernest Hemingway

Today’s Free Downloads:

BhoScanner 2.1.4 – BhoScanner allows you to discover browser helper objects of your computer including parasites and trojans.

Hotspot Shield 3.09 – Hotspot Shield creates a virtual private network (VPN) between your laptop and the wireless router.

SpyShelter Personal Free 8.5 – Monitors vulnerable and weak spots in your computer system ensuring that keyloggers are shut down even before they can launch.

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