Monthly Archives: July 2013

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 31, 2013

How NSA leaks are changing minds among the public—and in Congress – The Congressional action comes as evidence of a major shift in public opinion grows. Data out from a new Pew Research poll shows that 50 percent of the public approves of the government’s collection of phone and internet data, while 44 percent disapprove. Those numbers are little changed from a month ago, when 48 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved. However, when asked about whether the programs may be going too far in restricting civil liberties, responses differed sharply from three years ago. In 2010, 32 percent of Americans said anti-terrorism programs had “gone too far in restricting civil liberties.” This month, 47 percent believed that.

Internet privacy in an age of surveillance – Reassert your expectation of online privacy by using Internet services that promise to protect your confidentiality.

Spy agencies shun Lenovo, finding backdoors built into the hardware – Recent news revealing that spy agencies in the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have prohibitions against using the company’s products seem to be based on more than just suspicion.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Bradley Manning not guilty of “aiding the enemy,” convicted on most other counts – WikiLeaks’ best known leaker provided Cablegate docs, “Collateral Murder” video.

Five remote access tools for Android – When all you have at your disposal is a smart phone or tablet, the tools you choose for remote access can really make your day much easier.

Getting around Google+: A guide to the basics – In the two years it’s been around, Google+ has both grown and changed. In the first of three “how-to” guides, we tell you how to get started.

SkyDrive.com Gets More Photo Capabilities, GIF Support – Microsoft on Tuesday released a new set of features for SkyDrive.com aimed at making it a better place to store photos, including support for more file types, new editing tools, and additional sharing options.

DIY website tools for SMBs – For owners and operators of SMBs, these online tools will help you improve your web presence on a smaller budget in areas including e-commerce, marketing, and web development.

There’s no vacation from fitness: Apps and gear for exercising anywhere – Working out on the go doesn’t have to be difficult, however, and the recent boom of fitness tech devices has made it even easier. We’ve found some of the simplest gadgets, apps, and Web services to help you stay fit and on track, whether you’re in the air, on the ground, or flitting from city to city.

Google launches Views Web site for user-uploaded photo spheres – New community Web site lets users submit and browse images captured in the 360-degree panoramic format that Google launched last October.

Create a 3D model of your face, try on glasses using your iPad – Glasses.com has a free iPad app that helps you try on spectacles using a 3D model of your face.

Security:

UK the ‘number 1 target’ of online gangsters in 25 countries – e-crime report – Committee Chair, Keith Vaz MP said: “We are not winning the war on online criminal activity. We are being too complacent about these e-wars because the victims are hidden in cyberspace.” He added: “You can steal more on the internet than you can by robbing a bank and online criminals in 25 countries have chosen the UK as their number one target. Astonishingly, some are operating from EU countries.

The Pwn Plug R2 is a miniature NSA, ready to exploit networks for their own good – The new Pwn Plug looks less like a DC power supply plug—the form factor of its predecessor—and more like a small Wi-Fi access point or router. But inside, it’s really a Linux-powered NSA-in-a-box, providing white hat hackers and corporate network security professionals a “drop box” system that can be remotely controlled over a covert Internet channel or a cellular data connection.

Tampering with a car’s brakes and speed by hacking its computers: A new how-to – Later this week at the Defcon hacker conference, researchers plan to demonstrate an arsenal of attacks that can be performed on two popular automobiles: a Toyota Prius and a Ford Escape, both 2010 models. Starting with the premise that it’s possible to infect one or more of the ECUs remotely and cause them to send instructions to other nodes, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have developed a series of attacks that can carry out a range of scary scenarios. The researchers work for Twitter and security firm IOActive respectively.

Home automation systems rife with holes, security experts say – A variety of network-controlled home automation devices lack basic security controls, making it possible for attackers to access their sensitive functions, often from the Internet, according to researchers from security firm Trustwave. Some of these devices are used to control door locks, surveillance cameras, alarm systems, lights and other sensitive systems.

Spoofed! Fake GPS signals lead yacht astray – Researchers in the U.S. have managed to spoof GPS (Global Positioning System) signals to send a yacht hundreds of meters off course, while fooling the crew into thinking the yacht was remaining perfectly on course. The test, conducted last month off the coast of Italy, is one of the most sophisticated ever reported against GPS and represents several years of work by the team at the University of Texas at Austin.

Company News:

Samsung caught rigging phones to boost benchmark results – Samsung has been adding code that boosts CPU and GPU clock speeds when benchmarking apps are run. Whatever is going on here, though, it’s clear that benchmarks really aren’t to be trusted on mobile hardware any more than they are on traditional computers.

Microsoft lobs second Windows 8.1 preview at enterprise IT admins – Microsoft on Tuesday announced a second preview, this one with new features targeting larger IT departments. “Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview builds on the Window 8.1 Preview which is currently available, adding premium features designed to address mobility, security, management and virtualization needs of today’s enterprise,” Windows marketing manager Erwin Visser said in a blog post.

Intel web TV spy camera plans axed – Intel has dropped controversial plans to outfit its upcoming web TV set-top box with a face-recognition camera, admitting that a combination of privacy concerns and performance issues forced its hand. The original goal had been to use a combination of age, gender, and other identification features to track viewers of the web TV service and tailor advertising to suit; however, Intel’s web TV chief Erik Huggers told the WSJ, that’s now been abandoned, at least in the first-gen box.

Surface tablet revenue just $853m Microsoft reveals – Microsoft made $853m in revenue from Surface tablets in its 2013 fiscal year, a disappointing figure that failed to even cover the company’s $900m inventory adjustment charge for the poorly selling Surface RT. The figures, confirmed in Microsoft’s most recent 10K filing, paint an underwhelming picture of the Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, though doesn’t specify exactly how many units have been sold.

Starbucks starts embedding wireless charging mats in its tables – It’s not uncommon to see people sitting in Starbucks sipping their coffee while typing on a laptop, tapping a tablet, or using their phone. The coffee shop chain has embraced such gadgets by providing free WiFi and even power outlets to keep your battery topped up. And that trend is being continued as Starbucks has decided to embrace wireless charging.

Games and Entertainment:

Facebook offers promotional help to small game developers – The new pilot program, called Facebook Mobile Games Publishing, will assist selected game development shops in marketing and deploying their games on Facebook mobile clients, in exchange for an unspecified percentage of the revenue that the Facebook versions of these games generate.

NVIDIA SHIELD review – Delivered in NVIDIA SHIELD is the first full-fledged mobile device crossover into the desktop gaming universe. SHIELD is an Android-based physical gaming controller with its own clamshell hinge-attached display, powered by NVIDIA’s newest mobile processor, stepping up as what the company claims is the world’s most powerful mobile gaming device.

Capcom Essentials pack leaks, bundles five PS3 games for just $60 – On October 8 Capcom is set to offer PS3 owners a pretty sweet deal in the form of the Capcom Essentials game pack. Unfortunately, Capcom hasn’t been able to officially announce the pack themselves as EB Games Canada has jumped the gun and listed it on their website.

The next BioShock Infinite DLC, Burial at Sea, takes us back to Rapture – Set on New Year’s Eve 1958, Burial at Sea features Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth in their own two-part detective story set in Rapture. Yes, 1958 is a year before the city began to fall apart, so we’ll get to see Rapture in its (presumed) functional glory — something series fans wanted in full ever since the first BioShock.

Off Topic (Sort of):

13 Remote-Control Aerial Tours of Abandoned Places – The influx of relatively inexpensive, remotely-controlled flying machines sporting high-definition video cameras has meant that long-forgotten locales can be explored more easily and less dangerously than in the past.

Android tablet gives rare glimpse at North Korean tech – An Android tablet brought back from North Korea by a tourist has provided a glimpse at some of the restrictions placed on IT users in the famously secretive country.

Gallery: 55 images for NASA’s 55th anniversary – A half-century of missions, from Mercury to the Mars Science Laboratory and beyond.

Jetpack man soars over U.S. alongside B-17 bomber – Jetman, as Rossy is known, appeared alongside a vintage B-17 bomber at the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis., in his first public flight in the U.S. He flew in formation with the bomber, coming within several feet of the fuselage, before parachuting to a safe landing. Jetman has been thrilling crowds and aviators around the world with his custom-made jet suit, zooming across the English Channel in 2008.

First Open Source Airplane Could Cost Just $15,000 – The goal of Maker Plane is to develop a small, two-seat airplane that qualifies as a light sport aircraft and is affordable, safe, and easy to fly. But unlike other home-built aircraft, where companies or individuals charge for their plans or kits, Maker Plane will give its design away for free.The group behind the project consists of pilots and engineers who are designing the airplane, allowing it to be built using the kind of personal manufacturing equipment

Something to think about:

Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”

–      Thomas Jefferson

Today’s Free Downloads:

Data Crow 3.11.1 – Using Data Crow allows you to create a huge database containing all your collected items.

Google Chrome Portable 28.0.1500.95 – Google Chrome Portable is a web browser that runs web pages and applications with lightning speed.

Google Drive Google Drive 1.11.4865.2530 – Google Drive is everywhere you are —on the web, in your home, at the office and on the go.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 30, 2013

PRISM: 50% of Americans approve of NSA’s internet spying program – According to data from the Pew Research Center, 50% of Americans approve of their government’s collection of telephone and internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts. The research was conducted by Pew between July 17 – 21, just six weeks after Edward Snowden blew the whistle on PRISM – the US government’s omnipresent internet spying initiative. This apparent approval by a slim majority of Americans (50% approve and 44% disapprove) is all the more surprising given what else the survey has to tell us.

RiskRater: An IT-security test that no one fails – Three minutes. That’s it. Take the RiskRater challenge. You could save yourself, your fellow employees, and family members from a costly Internet oops.

Google Translate website now supports handwriting – Google Translate, which has successfully swept away its predecessors and competitors to become the standard in online translation, has a new feature: handwriting translation. It’s a feature that’s actually been available on their Android app for almost two years, but finally it’s coming to the website version as well.

Five bookmarks every computer user should have – Whether you’ve just purchased a new PC or you’ve been using the same one for years, chances are good that at some point, you’re going to need help and/or information. That’s why I’ve prepared this list of handy destinations you’ll want to keep bookmarked in your browser. Because when the time comes, you’ll be glad to have them at your fingertips.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to put your DVD library in the cloud – To turn a real-world DVD into a digital file that you can stream to the viewing platform of your choice, you have to rip it from the disc. As with ripping CDs, you’ll copy the contents of a DVD to your computer, and then convert those contents to a cloud-friendly format. In order for this to work, obviously, you must have access to a PC with a DVD drive.

Video Demo: Google Chromecast – For $35, Google’s Chromecast device turns your TV into a smart TV of sorts, with web browser mirroring, YouTube and Netflix.

LibreOffice – When it comes to creating documents, spreadsheets, databases, and presentations, MS Office is the suite that comes to mind. But let’s face it: Office is a pricey piece of software. Thankfully, there are cheaper alternatives out there, but they don’t always live up to their promise. LibreOffice offers up a free alternative, and we found it on par with its more popular competitor.

Windows 8, one year later: 10 mistakes Microsoft made (and how they plan to fix things) – It’s probably a safe bet to say that the first year of Windows 8 didn’t go as Microsoft had hoped or planned. So what went wrong? It wasn’t just one mistake. Instead, a series of strategic missteps and bad bets got Microsoft’s flashy new OS off to a very rocky start.

Dell’s Project Ophelia could be more bad news for PCs – Dell’s Android PC-on-a-stick threatens the relevance of traditional PCs from a different angle. The device is about the size of a large USB thumb drive. Instead of just flash-based storage, though, Project Ophelia packs a Rockchip RK3066 processor and 1GB of RAM, as well as both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity into that small space. It also has a microSD card slot to add additional storage if necessary.

10 innovations that can save money for small businesses – Innovation drives technology forward, making the business world run more smoothly and providing ways to save money. No business knows this more than the small business. Without the kind of cost savings innovation brings, many of them would close their doors for good. Here are some specific ways technical innovation is helping smaller businesses thrive.

Enliven Chrome’s new tab page with Metro live tiles – With the New MetroTab extension for Chrome, you can turn your new tab page into something that mimics the Metro interface of the Windows 8 Start screen.

How to see who isn’t following you on Google+ – Want to know if people you’ve added to circles have added you back? This free Chrome extension can help you out.

Tablet storage: Do you really need an expansion slot? – The simple answer depends on a user’s personal preference. Sometimes the way storage is handled on a tablet is just another item on a lengthy checklist of important features, including screen size and resolution, processing power and price. But there’s also a more detailed answer that highlights a tug of war going on behind the scenes between prominent tablet vendors.

Introduction to backup – Not backing up is like not wearing a seatbelt. You can go months or even years without a problem, then disaster strikes and you’re in serious trouble. Only a few hours before writing this article, I received an email from a reader who couldn’t access his hard drive, which contained files vital to his business. His letter didn’t even include the word backup.

Security:

This ‘world’s biggest data breaches’ infographic is terrifying – We’ve covered a great deal of the major data breaches experienced by enterprises over the last decade or so—Sony, the South Korean government, Nvidia, Honda—but there’s nothing quite like looking at them together, visualized.

Cybercrime ‘bigger threat than nuclear war’, UK lawmakers say – Following the lead of the U.S., U.K. lawmakers say that preventing cybercrime is now a top priority.

Google Play store plagued by short-lived scam apps, says Symantec – A steady stream of questionable applications is flowing daily into Google’s Play store for Android devices, according to security vendor Symantec. Over the last seven months, Symantec found more than 1,200 suspicious applications in the Play store. Google removes many shortly after they’re published, but others stay in the store for a few days.

Secure or delete saved passwords in Firefox – Want to add extra security to your password list? Or maybe you just need to remove an incorrectly typed password? Here’s how.

Syrian Electronic Army hijacks Thomson Reuters’ Twitter feed – Pro-Assad hacking group apparently commandeers the financial information firm’s Twitter account, sending out illustrations backing the Syrian president.

NASA falls short on its cloud computing security – As the space agency increasingly moves more data to the cloud, a new report says it hasn’t met proper security requirements and “potentially put NASA systems and data stored in the cloud at risk.”

Company News:

Apple slapped with lawsuit over mandatory employee bag checks – After allegedly being made to stand in line for “required but uncompensated security checks,” former retail store employees sue the iPhone-maker for dozens of hours of unpaid wages.

With Chromecast, Google reveals Chrome as its strategic big gun – Chrome is Google and Google is Chrome. The Chrome browser is Google’s most potent strategic weapon, a former Microsoft program manager says.

Amazon Beefing Up Fulfillment Centers With 5,000+ New Jobs – Amazon today announced plans to create more than 5,000 new full-time jobs within its U.S. fulfillment network, in an effort to meet growing consumer demand

Zynga reportedly had three top executives resign in July – Earlier this month, Microsoft’s Don Mattrick went on to become the company’s CEO, and following this three top executives have resigned from their position. The information comes from sources said to be familiar with the matter who spoke to Bloomberg.

Sony teams with Panasonic for 300GB optical disks – the slot lives on! – It’s unknown why, at the moment, the teams at Sony and Panasonic have decided they’d like to keep the standard-sized optical disk (CD-sized, that is) alive, but they’ve announced just that this morning. In an effort to create next-generation professional-use disks with capacities of at least 300 GB, these teams will join forces here and now. Their aim is to create this new media by the end of 2015.

Report Talks Apple Supplier Labor Abuses, Low-Cost iPhone – A new report slams alleged labor rights abuses at Apple supplier Pegatron, but also seems to confirm that Cupertino is working on a low-cost iPhone.

Games and Entertainment:

PlayStation 4 cuts fees for online services: Netflix, Hulu, chat included – In a bit of a change-up from past fees from notable console-selling brands, the Sony PlayStation 4 has been revealed this week to be coming without fees for online chat or third-party app streaming for apps such as Hulu and Netflix.

New Official Comedy App Hits Spotify – If you thought Spotify was only about the music, think again. If you’re in the mood to catch a case of the giggles, the streaming service has just the thing for you.

4,000-plus duke it out in epic Eve Online space showdown – Thousands of spaceships take part in the largest battle in Eve Online history. Check out these exclusive screenshots from someone who was there.

Grand Theft Auto V screenshots show off the “fast life” in Los Santos – We’ve already seen a handful of Grand Theft Auto V screenshots in the past, and Rockstar Games is no stranger to teasing their fans with a constant downpour of such imagery. Today, we’re being treated with more of that, and these specifically focus on what Rockstar is calling “the fast life” in GTAV.

Fish the depths in this fun and funny arcade game – Ridiculous Fishing is a great diversion, with upgrades that suck you in, and the kind of arcade action that makes it easy to recommend to any iOS gamer.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Word from WordPress: Catching Up With Matt Mullenweg – If you glance at Wikipedia to determine what WordPress is, you might come away with the impression that it’s a tool for creating and maintaining a blog. It is. But that’s an increasingly insufficient way to describe it: 18.9 percent of the web now consists of sites that run on WordPress’s software, from blogs created by newbies to big-media operations with millions of readers. (Such as the site you’re reading right now.)

Australian Parliament urges citizens to bypass geo-locks on software – An Australian parliamentary committee released a report today encouraging Australian consumers to find lawful ways to bypass “geo-locks” on popular software from Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and others. On average, Aussies pay 42 percent more for the same stuff as Americans.

Fly around Saturn in gorgeous short film – “Around Saturn” gives a stunning look at out solar system’s sixth planet, made entirely from images taken by Cassini in the style of early silent films.

You’ll soon be able to buy your own drone for $700 – 3D Robotics gave a sneak preview of a comparatively cheap consumer drone at an unmanned aircraft convention in San Francisco this week. The company’s new quadcopter, or four-rotor helicopter, can be controlled from a tablet running an Android flight system or other similar app. The as-yet-unnamed drone will cost about $700 and is aimed at an audience of hobbyists, even wedding photographers, who could attach a camera to the front and get sweeping shots from the sky.

Splashy! AquaTop turns water into a touch-screen display – Good news for gamers (and rubber duckies). A Kinect-based setup out of Japan transforms water into an interactive surface for playing games, watching movies, and maybe more.

Muzik smart headphones let audiophiles share on Facebook and Twitter – Headphones come in all shapes and sizes, yet offer more or less the same functionality. The folks behind Muzik aim to change this, announcing the soon-to-be-available smart headphones that allow users to natively share the song they’re listening to on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere.

Something to think about:

Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.”

–      John Maynard Keynes

Today’s Free Downloads:

Cyber-D’s Autodelete 3.13 – This program can automatically delete files in a specific folder that are older than the specified time. It checks the file dates by modification time. You can have it run on every Windows startup to delete old temp files, backups, webcam snapshots history, temporary internet files, etc…

VLC media player 2.0.8 – VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network. It doesn’t need any external codec or program to work.

Free MP3 Cutter and Editor 2.6.0.1953 – This is an extremely simple and handy Windows software for editing mp3 files.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 29, 2013

PRISM revelations result in lost business for US cloud companies – According to a recent survey by the industry organization Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the exposure of NSA’s PRISM program is having a very real impact on the bottom line of US cloud service providers in the form of lost overseas customers.

Tech firms squirm over their role in Prism surveillance – The disclosures about the National Security Agency’s massive global surveillance by Edward Snowden, the former information-technology contractor who’s now wanted by the U.S. government for treason, is hitting the U.S. high-tech industry hard as it tries to explain its involvement in the NSA data-collection program. (Explain what? Perhaps, explain why (in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave), not a single company individual (or collective individuals), had either the physical or emotional courage to stand up to what was clearly illegal and immoral activity. Better yet – don’t explain. I’ll wait for the mythical Hollywood movie version.)

Judge denies government’s bid to delay lawsuit to halt NSA metadata collection – A federal judge has denied the government’s request to delay what could turn out to be a major landmark case (ACLU v. Clapper) on the legality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass metadata collection program. In a complaint filed last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a judge to declare Verizon’s ongoing metadata collection and sharing to the NSA unconstitutional.

Scan, track, and control how apps access your personal data – That app is called Online Privacy Shield, and it’s a must-have for anyone seriously concerned about the privacy of their information. With a few taps, you’ll know who has access to the information you share on various social networking sites. With a few more taps, you can revoke that permission. It’s simple to use, effective, and ready to serve.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

PornMD breaks down the world’s porn searches by keyword and region – The chart is easy to use. All you have to do is choose a region of the world from the top selection, and a map of that region will invoke. A list of the top ten most searched for porn keywords will be displayed for that larger region. If you hover your mouse of any of the regions within the overall area you selected — such as states or countries, depending on the landmass — you’ll get a breakdown of what the top ten most searched for porn keywords are for the smaller area. Be warned, some of the words are not safe for work.

Twitter to simplify the reporting of abusive tweets, after outcry over rape threats – Following outrage in the U.K. over tweets containing threats of rape, the company says a feature designed to make it easier to report abusive tweets when using Twitter on the iPhone will be coming to other platforms.

The sounds of a sick PC: Listen to the noises that could mean bad news – Have you listened to your PC lately? I mean, really listened? If you’re lucky, your PC doesn’t have much to say. But if yours sounds like a box of pots and pans falling down a flight of wooden stairs or a helicopter trying desperately to take off, chances are good that it has a problem. We’ve gathered some of the noises worth worrying about: Just click the audio links in this article to hear a fan on the fritz, for example, or a hard drive headed for disaster.

Bitdefender Safepay offers secure browsing for online banking, shopping – Bitdefender has released a Windows application designed to help users secure sensitive Web-browsing sessions, especially when they shop or bank online. The application is called Safepay and a free version is available to home users.

11 free mobile apps for city life – City dwellers face challenges every day of their lives: Which subway lines are working, whether or not it’s worth trying to hail a cab at this corner and where the best ramen shop in the neighborhood might be hiding. A good app can make urban life a lot easier. We’ve sifted through a wealth of mobile apps out there to see which ones can best help you find transportation, food, housing and local events in your city, and found 11 useful ones — all free.

Hover Zoom – Hover Zoom is one of the best and most useful browser plugins in existence…provided you use the Chrome browser, as it is not available for anything else. It allows you to move your mouse over a small picture and instantly magnify it, without clicking or opening anything. This free extension from Romain Vallet works on many popular sites, including Facebook, Flickr, Reddit, and Twitter.

Ubuntu Unity empowers small businesses with powerful searching and easy configuration – If your small business is worrying about transitioning from Windows 7 to Windows 8, Jack Wallen proposes going with a completely different option: Ubuntu Unity.

Progress! An app that sends a breakup text for you – BreakUp Text is an app that does the dirty work for you. Because, well, why bother telling your lover sayonara yourself? Who needs the grief?

New app could curb underage drinking by spotting fake IDs – The barZapp app lets users scan licenses from every U.S. state as well as the Canadian provinces with an iPhone.

Seven reasons to buy the new Nexus 7 – After reading about Google’s new tablet, I decided there was more than enough in this to preorder my own.

Security:

Stanford University hacked, becomes latest data breach victim – Yet more passwords need changing, as America’s prestigious Stanford University joins the long line of recent data breach victims. Although specific details remain scarce, an announcement from the university authorities urges all users, which may include staff and alumni as well as students, to ensure their details are checked and updated ASAP.

SMS spam intensifies, ranging from pesky to perilous – As the summer heated up, SMS spam related to warm weather began to clog texting channels, according to Cloudmark’s Global Messaging Threat Report for the year’s second calendar quarter.

Man gets ransomware porn pop-up, goes to cops, gets arrested on child porn charges – A man from just outside of Washington, DC turned himself in to local police—with his computer in tow—after receiving a pop-up message from what he believed was an “FBI Warning” telling him to click to pay a fine online, or face an investigation. While specific details on the case are scant as of yet, it appears that the suspect here fell victim to a type of ransomware that has been proliferating for years now—raking in millions for the scammers behind it.

Apple restores key parts of dev site after attack – Apple has restored key sections of its developer website, including the download center, more than a week after it took the portal offline.

LinkedIn closes OAuth hole that could have let people tinker with your CV – A software developer identified by The Register as Richard Mitchell, based in the UK, earlier this week blogged about discovering that LinkedIn’s help site handed out private OAuth tokens for logged-in users. These supposedly secret OAuth tokens can be used to impersonate LinkedIn users and potentially get at their profile information via APIs.

Remembering Barnaby Jack – It’s said that each man’s death diminishes us all in some way. But some passings take a bigger piece than others. The death of Barnaby Jack is one of those, having left a major hole in the security community and let a lot of air out of the room.

16 Years of Black Hat: The Changing Face of Cyberattacks – This year marks the 16th anniversary of Black Hat, and to celebrate the security company Venafi released a report chronicling nearly two decades of cyberattacks. More than just a parade of malicious accomplishment, the Venafi report tells a remarkable story about the changing motivations and techniques of cyberattacks, and what it means for the future.

Company News:

Twitter Posts $55K of Promoted Tweets to Help Avoid Payroll Taxes – Here’s the gist: Twitter, headquartered in San Francisco, was considering moving its operations to nearby Brisbane a few years ago unless it received special exemption from the city to skirt a city payroll tax. The tax, a 1.5 percent fee on total employee compensation levied against companies with payroll greater than $250,000, included salaries, bonuses, and exercised stock options — and could have cost Twitter north of $20 million dollars over six years.

Oracle files lawsuit against companies offering illegal tech support – Oracle has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California against two IT service providers, Maintech and Terix. According to the lawsuit, the two companies have provided illegal support for Oracle’s Solaris OS software, having encouraged customers to cancel their Oracle support subscriptions.

Apple’s Smartphone Market Share Slips – Apple’s share of the global smartphone market fell during the second quarter to its lowest level in four years, according to data released Friday.

Google to Glass Developers: Start Developing on Android SDK – Chomping at the bit to design your own Google Glass app? You’ll have to wait a little bit longer to get your hands on Google’s to-be-released Glass Development Kit (GDK), a software toolkit that will officially (and finally) allow developers to build apps that can run directly on Glass itself.

Games and Entertainment:

The best games of the year so far – These are the titles that we would recommend without reservation to anyone looking for something new to distract them from their dull and pointless lives. Check out the video for some sample gameplay, then read about what makes each game worthwhile below.

New Elysium clip online: robot firefight – There’s a new clip from upcoming sci-fi actioner Elysium. Matt Damon battles robot minions in his exoskeletal robot gear. Fair match. Can’t wait for August 9th release date to come around!

PS4 games will use 5.5GB of RAM out of 8GB, but there’s a catch – According to the report, the PS4 will allow games to work with 5.5GB of RAM. Furthermore, the operating system will have a dedicated 3.5GB of RAM. Yes, that would total 9GB. The breakdown is such that the OS will have 3.5GB of dedicated RAM, games will have 4.5GB dedicated, but games will be able to take 1GB from the OS when necessary, raising it to that 5.5GB figure.

The 30 Best iPhone Games – From casual match-three games to trivia to intense first-person shooters, check out our 30 best games for Apple’s iPhone.

Off Topic (Sort of):

So you call yourself a geek? – The NSA surveillance scandal and the passing of hacker Barnaby Jack are both reminders that the label “geek” has been hijacked by vast dull herds of consumer wannabes.

Terms and Conditions: A movie about privacy policies you’ll actually want to watch – The documentary, released last week, will particularly interest your smart (but less tech-savvy) friends who shrug at things like the most recent NSA metadata surveillance scandal. American technology law and policy can often feel too niche, despite the fact that the issues in question apply in some way to nearly everyone on the Internet, as American companies are so dominant online. But this film might just be the most fun and accessible way to learn about what’s been happening to all of us, online, over the last 15 years.

Astronaut controls robot on Earth from the ISS – An astronaut aboard the International Space Station used an extraterrestrial remote control system on Friday to maneuver a robot rover at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. In the test, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano used the rover to deploy a simulated radio telescope antenna on the Ames Roverscape, a sandy and rocky simulation of the lunar landscape that’s about the size of a football field.

Supertoy Teddy: a WiFi enabled natural talking teddy bear – If you’re one of the many who experience the first generation Furby toys in your childhood, you can stop cringing now. Supertoy Teddy is an attempt at Siri-style natural language communication inside a WiFi-enabled teddy bear.

Dad’s perfect gift for son: A 737 cockpit simulator in his bedroom – Laurent Aigon knew exactly what his kid wanted. So, despite not being a pilot himself — nor an engineer — he orders the parts online and begins to build.

Extreme Reality turns skeletons into biometric signatures – The software technology captures full-body 3D motion using a 2D camera to recognize an individual’s gait as a unique biometric signature.

Something to think about:

Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.”

–     Russell Baker

Today’s Free Downloads:

Identity Finder Home Edition 6.3.2 – Social security numbers, credit cards, bank accounts, passwords, and other highly sensitive personal information are sitting idly on your computer leaving you and your family exposed to identity theft. You may not be able to find all the places it’s hidden, but hackers and thieves know where to look. Identity Finder goes deep, searching the computer to locate and secure potentially dangerous data – even when you don’t know it exists.

AutoHotkey 1.1.11.02 – Automate almost anything: Send keystrokes & mouse clicks; launch programs / documents; work with the clipboard, registry, & soundcard settings. In addition to its automation features described below, AutoHotkey excels at hotkeys, able to make virtually any mouse/joystick button, keyboard key, or combination into a hotkey.

Foxit Reader – Foxit Reader is designed for a broad spectrum of users including enterprise and government organizations. Foxit Reader is fully customizable to meet any organization business objective and its small footprint makes it easy to deploy. It is also packed with features not available in competitor’s products. Foxit Foxit Reader’s small footprint makes easy to update and maintain.

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Three Ways 4G/Fibre Broadband Can Help Businesses Thrive

Joe Linford, of Broadband Genie, highlights the growing technologies of 4G and Fibre broadband and suggests some of the potential benefits  for helping businesses be more successful.

4G & Fibre optic broadband – what’s happening?

imageThe successor to 3G – 4G, is essentially ultra-fast mobile broadband that utilises airwaves to send information from one internet enabled device to another. Once used by terrestrial television, the airwaves which were owned by the government, were auctioned off to phone networks by Ofcom, and are now starting to become available throughout the UK.

At the same time this is happening, superfast broadband is gradually making its way around the country. As a way of sending information, Fibre optic broadband allows users to access the internet, keep in contact and download information faster than ever before.

You can read more information about the above and check the availability of deals in your area by using Broadband Genie’s guides to 4G and Fibre broadband. But for now, let’s explore how these could have a positive impact on your business.

Are you ready?

Whereas many rural areas may still be waiting for some time, those in urban regions are finally starting to enjoy great broadband speeds. As well as a number of advantages for consumers, businesses are also starting to enjoy the benefits that come with a faster broadband connection.

As 4G and Fibre optic broadband bring advancements in the way businesses can operate, it’s vitally important to understand how your business can thrive and not be left behind in what has become a significant aspect of long term business success.

  • Connections speeds: While Fibre optic will dramatically improve speeds in the workplace, 4G will do the same for anyone on the move and in business, time is money. Working online is no different than working in a factory or retail and the quicker employees can operate, the better value for money you will get as a business owner; something that could lead to you gaining the advantage over your rivals, should they miss the boat.
  • File sharing: This is another area in which businesses that rely heavily on the Internet will see significant advancements. As well as being able to file share much quicker within the workplace, workers will now be able to file share at home and on the move. As well as improving speeds, users will now have the freedom to file share when they want to and not have to wait until they are at work to complete tasks. This should allow for smoother running of many businesses.
  • Online collaboration: From instant messaging to online conference calling, both 4G and Fibre will open doors that have, until now, remained closed, thanks to online collaboration. Users within the office will be able to work far more effectively with others anywhere in the world. 4G users will also enjoy huge benefits, as restrictions that stop users from taking conference calls at a time and place that suit them will be removed. Whilst this is currently possible with 3G, the service is often poor and as such unviable.

It’s time:

The more your business relies on the Internet, the greater the emphasis you should be placing upon understanding and utilising 4G and Fibre optic. Many businesses are now making the transition to the Internet, with it playing an ever increasing role in the long term success of companies both small and large.

The door isn’t opening to just large businesses. As NBS points out, small businesses who have thus far been priced out of the market due to being unable to afford software applications, will be able to utilise the cloud more effectively as well, thus ensuring that they can compete with larger organisations

Neither 4G nor Fibre optic are available everywhere at present, so you may have to be a little patient in some areas. However, if it is and you haven’t taken the first steps, then maybe now is the time. You may be losing ground to your competitors.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 26, 2013

Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords – Secret demands mark escalation in Internet surveillance by the federal government through gaining access to user passwords, which are typically stored in encrypted form. (The Patriot Act = Fascism)

European companies should stop sending data to the US, German privacy officials say – Due to the mass surveillance of communications by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), U.S. companies can no longer fulfill European requirements for the exchange of personal data, said Germany’s Conference of Data Protection Commissioners in a joint letter sent to German chancellor Angela Merkel that was published on Wednesday. The conference consists of the federal data protection commissioner and the data protection commissioners of the German states.

U.S. cloud firms suffer from NSA PRISM program – The effects of the PRISM disclosures have already begun to come into view. In a recent survey by the Cloud Security Alliance, a non-profit group with more than 48,000 individual members, 10 percent of officials at foreign companies said that they have cut ties with U.S. providers following the leaks, and 56 percent of foreign respondents say they are now hesitant to do business with U.S. firms.

Information Consumerism: The Price of Hypocrisy – For American spies, Big Data is like crack cocaine: just a few doses – and you can forget about mending your way and kicking the habit. Yes, there’s an initial illusion of grandeur and narcissistic omnipotence – just look at us, we could prevent another 9/11! – but a clearer, unmediated brain would surely notice that one’s judgment has been severely impaired. Prevent another 9/11? When two kids with extensive presence on social media can blow up a marathon in Boston? Really? All this data, all this sacrifice– and for what?

EFF: Forced Decryption Violates Fifth Amendment – The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an Amicus Brief to a United States District Court yesterday that could impact rulings around forced device decryption and whether that is an act of self-incrimination, and is protected by the Fifth Amendment.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

CCleaner 4.04 – The überpopular utility software for finding and removing junk files updates with new support for Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11.

Google Chromecast review: Finally, Internet-to-TV streaming done right – When you consider the fact that the Chromecast includes a three-month Netflix credit, its actual cost comes out to 11 bucks ($35 minus $24 in Netflix savings). And when you consider how easily you could take the Chromecast with you on the go — to stream movies while traveling, share photos or videos at social gatherings, conduct presentations at conferences, and so on — its value and transformation potential is staggering.

Chromecast sells out as Google cancels Netflix promotion – Chromecast, the nifty $35 HDMI dongle from Google, was being offered alongside a free three months of Netflix promotion that had been offered on a limited basis. That promotion has already run out, with Google stating that the free service offer has been cancelled. Shortly after that, the Chromecast itself sold out entirely.

Use CloudShot to send screenshots to Dropbox – Looking for an easy way to share screenshots from your Dropbox account? This free app for Windows has you covered.

Internet Explorer 11 Preview brings better browsing to Windows 7 – Until now, if you wanted to try out Internet Explorer 11 you needed Windows 8.1 Preview. That’s changed today as WIndows 7 got a preview build.

PsExec is a Windows power user’s best friend – Mark Russinovich of Microsoft (and formerly of Winternals) has a neat little freeware command line utility that effectively serves as the Windows equivalent of ssh on Linux, except that it has a whole lot more tricks. Not only are you able to issue commands remotely by IP address or hostname over a corporate intranet, you can also reset user passwords, specify which CPUs or cores should be used to operate a task, initiate remote file copies, and much more.

Finding Evil: Automating Autoruns Analysis – You can buy appliances to put in your network in an effort to find evil on systems in your enterpise. I know a wicked smart individual who develops one such system and I strongly recommend you check them out, especially if you can afford them. But let’s say you didn’t budget for one of these systems this year, there’s still something you can cobble together using Autoruns , Psexec , Cygwin and VirusTotal . It may not be as effective or capable as the system that rhymes with “beer,” but it’s going to be useful. Let’s get to it. (recommended by Aseem S.)

These Are the 300 Biggest Data Leaks Ever – Information is Beautiful has compiled a stunning (terrifying?) interactive infographic showing 300 of the world’s largest data breaches.

Microsoft gives Fresh Paint a fresh coat of… – Specifically, the new Fresh Paint includes watercolor paints, a new set of pencils, new high-end brushes and more realistic “art supplies” for your digital art studio. Fresh Paint isn’t as simple as it looks, Microsoft said; behind the scenes, an incredibly complex physics engine mimics the behavior of real paint, the company said.

Quick Tip: Disable the permanent Auto arrange setting in Windows 7 and 8 – Bring back the Auto arrange icons and Align icons to grid menu items, the way they were in Windows XP.

Hack it! SMBs rather be quick, dirty, and effective – Instant intranet? Forget spending thousands setting up an internal staff Web site, just use a Facebook group. Hacks go a long way for a small business.

Security:

Phishing scam piggybacks on Apple Dev Center hack – With people no doubt on edge after the hacking of Apple’s Web site for developers, scammers are sending out bogus e-mails in an apparent effort to steal passwords.

Long-Range RFID Hacking Tool to be Released at Black Hat – A tool that enables a hacker or penetration tester to capture RFID card data from up to three feet away will be released next week at Black Hat. (There goes your card issuer’s guarantee that your card/s can only be read from mere inches away.)

Cybercriminals are using the Tor network to control their botnets – Malware writers are increasingly considering the Tor anonymity network as an option for hiding the real location of their command-and-control (C&C) servers, according to researchers from security firm ESET. The ESET researchers recently came across two botnet-type malware programs that use (C&C) servers operating as Tor “hidden services.”

Five indicted in massive hacking scheme – The men allegedly attacked the networks of several companies, including Nasdaq, 7-Eleven, JCP, Dow Jones and Hannaford, the DOJ said. Companies reported $300 million in losses from the attacks, the DOJ said in a press release.

DHS to set up $6 billion one-stop security shop for government agencies – A fund of up to $6 billion has been set aside by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to build a central repository of security tools and expertise for government use. The unclassified program is mainly aimed at civilian government, including federal, state and local level departments and agencies, but will be open to defense and intelligence agencies.

Company News:

Facebook Shares Skyrocket as the Social Giant Hits Its Mobile Stride – Social networking juggernaut Facebook delivered a summer surprise to investors on Wednesday, with strong earnings results that demonstrated impressive progress in the mobile space.

Samsung extends lead in global mobile phone market – Samsung accounts for nearly 28 percent of all handsets shipped worldwide in the second quarter of 2013, followed by fading Nokia and surging Apple and LG, according to new market data.

Game over for Zynga? Firm loses 25 percent of daily active users in one quarter – In its latest earnings statement filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Zynga reported the number of daily average users (DAU) dropped to 39 million in the second quarter of 2013—the lowest ever since the company began keeping track. Last quarter, the DAU fell to the then-lowest record, 52 million users. The fall to 39 million means that 25 percent of its daily user base stopped using Zynga products in just one quarter.

Google reveals it spent $966 million in Waze acquisition – A regulatory filing shows that the Web giant has acquired 16 companies so far this year for a colossal sum of $1.31 billion.

HP to try a $99 tablet again?HP to try a $99 tablet again? – It’s not exactly impossible for Hewlett-Packard to do a $99 tablet, as Digitimes reported. The HP Slate 7 is very close already.

BlackBerry lays off 250 workers in Canada – The company made cuts in areas that support manufacturing and R&D, according to Bloomberg.

Games and Entertainment:

FEAR Online official, beta sign-ups happening now – The popular horror-themed first-person shooter series FEAR is back, and this time it’s going free-to-play. Aeria Games has announced FEAR Online, an online, free-to-play approach of Monolith’s horror FPS series. FEAR Online will take the singleplayer aspect of the game and turn it into an online multiplayer experience.

Firefall is a free-to-play shooter you should play—with friends – Firefall is a PC shooter, currently in open beta. There are points to capture, bases to defend, and all manner of guns to ogle over. But it’s also an MMO. Events and quests spawn regularly, but it’s up to you to hike over to them before your content-hungry peers gobble up the foes, and any prizes.

Call of Duty: Ghosts Wii U version officially confirmed – It’s been up in the air for a while whether or not we’d see Call of Duty: Ghosts make its way to the Wii U. Activision didn’t initially announce Wii U support when it first made the game official, and executive producer Mark Rubin pretty much hinted to the fact that we would see a Wii U version, but now it’s official.

Silky-smooth graphics for a silky-smooth ride (pictures) – Riptide GP2 raises the bar with excellent graphics, realistic wave physics, and outstanding gameplay.

Off Topic (Sort of):

VIDEO: Woman Has Epic Temper Tantrum in Apple Store – What do you get when you combine one really pissed off Apple Store customer and a celebrity with a smartphone? Well, that’s a recipe for a viral video.

Woman steals $821,000, wants the crowd to pay it back – A woman pleads guilty to stealing $821,000 from her employer and spending the money on trips and jewelry. So she goes on to the Go Fund Me site to crowdsource the payback. Thus far, she has raised $290

Finally, a Shower Curtain with a Built-in iPad Pouch – iPads and water don’t mix, so your best bet has been to leave your iPad on the bathroom counter like a commoner. Until now, of course.

Vacation locations: How to make a story map with photos, text, map – Want to share vacation photos to show just where you’ve been — and tell something about each one? Or perhaps showcase pictures taken close to home on a map? There’s a technique that newsroom developers use to combine images, videos and maps without having to code from scratch, thanks to Esri’s free story maps templates. While the workflow isn’t very intuitive, it turns out that story maps are quite easy to create if you know the steps. Here’s how.

The Kite Patch offers an invisibility cloak against mosquitoes – By blocking the ability to detect CO2, this new product has the potential to revolutionize the spread of insect-borne diseases.

WikiLeaks Party officially launches in Australia, Assange to run for senate – On Thursday, Julian Assange, the embattled WikiLeaks founder who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for over a year, formally announced the launch of his WikiLeaks Party. The process to get the party registered has been ongoing since December 2012. Assange himself will be a candidate for senate, hoping to represent the state of Victoria.

First 3D printed rifle fired successfully in Canada – Meet the Grizzly, a functional, 3D-printed 22 caliber rifle that was designed and assembled in Canada. Think of it as a foreign cousin of Defense Distributed’s Liberator that’s in to flannel and hunting.…

Something to think about:

The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.”

–     Franklin D. Roosevelt

Today’s Free Downloads:

CCleaner Portable 4.04.4197 – CCleaner Portable is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. This is the portable version, unzip anywhere and run it.

CCleaner Standard CCleaner Standard 4.04.4197 – CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. This is the standard installer with uninstaller.

LibreOffice Productivity Suite 4.1.0 – A productivity suite that is compatible with other major office suites, and available on a variety of platforms.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 26, 2013

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 25, 2013

Congress nearly shuts down NSA phone dragnet, in sudden 205-217 vote – “While ultimately not successful, this vote showed that more than 200 members of Congress—including the author of the Patriot Act—oppose these programs,” said David Segal of Demand Progress in an e-mailed statement. “These programs barely survived after a full court lobbying campaign by the White House, the Intelligence community, and the NSA proper. Today’s vote shows that the tide is turning.” “This is a great first step. It’s the best vote we’ve ever had on the Patriot Act,” an ACLU lobbyist told The Guardian. It was a “sea change” in how Congress views bulk surveillance, she said, and it will at least force more privacy protections into a forthcoming intelligence authorization bill.

Feds put heat on Web firms for master encryption keys – Whether the FBI and NSA have the legal authority to obtain the master keys that companies use for Web encryption remains an open question, but it hasn’t stopped the U.S. government from trying.

MP behind UK internet porn filter hacked, accuses blogger who reported it – Yesterday MP Claire Perry’s website was hacked. The current advisor to the British Prime Minister on UK Internet filtering laws accused a blogger who reported it of the deed, in threats revealing she doesn’t know how links or websites work. (Just one more example of how the “Political Pigs” are running on empty while attempting to exercise control over your right to access data of your choosing.)

Scan, track, and control how apps access your personal data – With Online Privacy Shield, you can scan the apps on your device, find out what information they’re using, and control what each service can see.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Visualized: The Shady Behavior of Web Services – Harry Brignull, a user experience designer and consultant, has put together a great post showing all the ways that websites try to dupe you into signing up for things you don’t want. The blog post does a fine job of encapsulating the idea, allowing you to seethe as you scroll through example after example of shady sign-up forms. We see companies automatically enrolling people in expensive membership programs, refusing to let them escape without filling out a detailed explanation form and using double negatives to ensnare people in e-mail marketing.

The Best Free Firewalls – Firewall protection has been built into Windows since the introduction of Windows XP in 2001, so paying for a third-party firewall utility doesn’t make a lot of sense. On the other hand, the built-in Windows firewall specifically protects your system from outside attacks, not from local programs abusing your network connection. For two-way firewall protection, you do need more than Windows alone can offer. Fortunately there are a number of free personal firewalls available to handle that task.

New “Chromecast,” a $35 HDMI dongle to get video streams to your TV – Google announced a new device, dubbed Chromecast, at a press event in San Francisco today. The tiny dongle plugs into an HDMI input on a TV and connects to Wi-Fi, allowing users to stream video directly to their TVs from other devices—without requiring matching operating systems. Interfaces will now present a “cast” button that when clicked will send the video from a PC, tablet, or smartphone to the television. Playback can then be controlled by the device sending the video.

Google announces a quad-core, 1080p Nexus 7 – A sharper display, wireless charging, quad-core processor, and rear-facing camera: Google’s 2013 edition of the Nexus 7 proves you can get plenty of bang for your buck, even though its latest entry in the budget tablet market now exceeds that magical $199 price point.

10 Most Common Printer Problems Solved – Printers can present a bewildering range of problems. Fortunately, many of them can be resolved by consumers armed with a bit of knowledge. Here are solutions to some of the most common issues.

Social media etiquette tips and abbreviations cheat sheet – There are some unique considerations to online etiquette when it comes to social media (think: hashtag use). By following these basic guidelines, you should avoid a social media faux pas.

Google boosts handwriting feature in Google Translate – The Web giant now gives users the ability to handwrite 45 different languages on their smartphone and tablet screens and instantaneously get a translation.

Clownfish for Skype – Clownfish is a translator that integrates itself into Skype and instantly translates every chat message said between you and the other person. The speed is admirable, but the accuracy less so. When I tested it with my wife, who is German, she told me the German translations were not that great.

Lighter version of Facebook coming soon for India – In addition to the mobile version of Facebook, a lighter, mobile version will soon be available in developing countries such as India to tap the heavy usage of feature phones.

Security:

‘Digital carjackers’ are the worst sort of backseat drivers – In the video below, a pair of automotive hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, demonstrate to a Forbes staff reporter how they’re able to spoof fuel levels and vehicle speeds to display incorrect data on the dashboard, trigger the precollision system, take limited control of the electronic power steering system, honk the horn, tug at the driver with the seat belts, and even deactivate the brakes. Scary stuff.

Wireless gadgetry in cars to grow 41% in next 4 years – Remember when you thought it was cool your car had a USB socket? Well, geezer, automotive infortainment is going to leave you behind and make someone else really rich. That’s right, the blue screen of death will eventually mean, well, the blue screen of death.

Internet Explorer Protects Your Privacy Better than Chrome. Really! – You can buy dozens of security products designed to protect your online privacy in dozens of different ways. Really, though, when it comes down to it, shouldn’t privacy protection be built right into the browser? Truth to tell, the major browsers all have varying degrees of privacy protection built in, but some handle it better than others. A recent report from NSS Labs details the differences.

KPMG found leaking data, as it criticises every single company in the FTSE 350 for doing the same – Using simple internet search tools, KPMG’s team discovered that every single company in the FTSE 350 is leaking data online. Something which could put a business at risk. So how well does KPMG itself handle this kind of thing? Oh, the irony…

Chipotle stages bogus Twitter hack for promotional campaign – The fast-food restaurant comes clean after posting a bizarre string of tweets that were thought to be done by hackers. “This is far more hoax than hack,” Chipotle says.

SIM card vulnerabilities easy to fix, researcher says – A pair of severe security problems in millions of SIM cards should be easy for operators to fix, according to the German security researcher who found the issues. Operators and SIM card vendors haven’t played the blame game and are working on fixes.

Almost half of India Web users attacked by local malware – According to Kaspersky Lab, 5.39 million local malware threats were detected on computers in India, putting the country in 10th place globally.

Company News:

Fortune 500 companies give social media a thumbs-up – The world’s top bankrollers are increasingly growing their social-media presence — currently, 77 percent of Fortune 500 companies keep active Twitter accounts and 70 percent have a Facebook page.

Zuckerberg dismisses Facebook teen drop-off: ‘Just isn’t true’ – Despite the consistent criticisms aimed at Facebook’s inability to hold on to the coveted teen market, CEO Mark Zuckerberg dispels the rumors.

Forget the high margins, Apple — cut iPad Mini prices – Apple sold 14% fewer iPads in the quarter that ended June 30 than in the same quarter last year, while the revenue from those sales plummeted by 27%. The solution? Cut prices, say analysts.

Icahn in control after Dell ups offer to take company private – Michael Dell and Silver Lake’s decision to raise the offer to take Dell private is a concession that rival Carl Icahn and affiliated parties may have an upper hand in the wrangling to take over the company, observers of the deal said.

Games and Entertainment:

Get 10 indie games for five bucks – No paying extra to unlock the really good games, just 10 solid titles for a mere 50 cents apiece. Plus a little charitable contribution for good measure.

The Best Graphics Cards for Gaming – In PC gaming, your graphics card can make the difference between victory or defeat. These GPUs will keep you competitive on the gaming grid.

Microsoft to allow developers to self-publish Xbox One games – Company will let developers use retail hardware for development, and it relents on a policy that required game makers to have a publisher to get onto the Xbox One.

Google Play Games app now available – The same app will come pre-loaded on the newly announced Nexus 7 tablet, and will serve as a central hub of sorts for viewing game achievements, leaderboards, checking out what friends are playing, and all that good stuff.

Comixology leads comic-publishing resurgence – In a surprisingly short time, the comic world seems to have stopped worrying and started loving digital technology. It turns out that comic shops are doing okay. In an industry that never had a Borders or a Tower Records, the small comic shops with good communities have survived and even thrived, rather than being destroyed by competition from digital comics.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Feeling down? Let computer-generated emotions help – Turn that frown upside down. Researchers create a virtual “mirror” that uses software to brighten your facial expression. It could help you feel happier, they say — and make you drop more cash.

Smart mattress checks pressure with thousands of sensors – The MAP System introduces a new concept in bedsore prevention: a “continuous bedside pressure mapping system” fitted right onto the mattress.

Police chief defends posting anti-government YouTube videos – Mark Kessler, police chief of Gilberton, Penn., insists it’s his First Amendment right to post videos showing him shooting weapons, calling opponents “libtards,” and criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry.

German police to begin making 3D-printed guns to test effectiveness – Driven by both a justified concern over home-produced plastic firearms and a desire to explore the potential for cheaper police weapons, German law enforcement picks up a 3D printer.

Google Play gets textbook category as Google dives deep into education – More and more tech companies are showing interest in education and helping out students by offering services and features to assist them during their studies. After all, the youth are the future. Google thinks so too and has introduced a textbooks category in Google Play where students can rent and buy digital textbooks.

Something to think about:

The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.”

–      John Kenneth Galbraith

Today’s Free Downloads:

StreamWriter 4.9.0.0 – StreamWriter is a free internet-radio application. streamWriter will record as many streams as you want at the same time (MP3/AAC), automatically record a wishlist’s song when it’s playing on a stream, schedule recordings, apply effects to recorded songs and more.

Wifi Password Revealer 1.0.0.4 – A small freeware utility which will show all your saved WiFi passwords.

Junkware Removal Tool 5.2.2 – A security utility that searches for and removes common adware, toolbars, and potentially unwanted programs.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 24, 2013

Survey Finds Concern with Government Access to Information – The CSA today also published the results of its recent survey on government access to information. The survey received almost 500 responses from CSA members around the world. It found that 56% of non-US residents were now less likely to use US-based cloud providers, in light of recent revelations about government access to customer information. An overwhelming 90% of respondents said that companies who have been subpoenaed through provisions of the Patriot Act should be able to publish summary information about the amount of responses they have made.

US lawmakers to vote on data mining – US legislators are expected to vote on whether to halt phone and internet data mining not related to terror suspects, a move opposed by the White House. (These so called “lawmakers” aren’t in the least bit interested in securing your “constitutional rights” – this is about $$$. More particularly, the threat of lost business opportunities in markets in which alternatives to U.S. Cyber services exist. Obama stays the course and continues to display his cyber-dummy stance.)

Normal humans – aka “non-celebrities” – are telling Big Brother to go stick his head in a sack – A legal publisher says that privacy actions against police, hospitals and security services in the UK are up 22% over last year. A few years back, it was mostly celebs who were trying to elbow the media out of their private lives, but nowadays, normal humans are using privacy laws to try to claw back their data.

11 Simple Ways to Protect Your Privacy – Your personal information, including your email address, phone number and social security number, is worth a lot of money to legitimate businesses and bad guys alike. The bad guys just want to steal from you. Companies want to know as much about you as possible so they can sell you more products and services or serve you ads that are highly relevant to your demographics and preferences. So take these simple steps to protect your valuable personal information.

Five must-have browser security add-ons – Not all browsers are created equal. Some do a much better job at securing your connectivity and data than others. The browsers you more actively trust are those that allow the addition of extensions (or add-ons) to help enhance the security of your time online. But of the myriad of add-ons, which ones are the “must-haves” among the crowd? I have tracked down the five top add-ons that I feel are most necessary for a safe web-centric experience.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

What’s My Computer Doing? – Don’t look so smug. Do you honestly know everything that is going on under the hood of your perhaps not-so-smoothly running computer?

Use your Samsung Galaxy Note tablet as a digitizer for your PC – Jack Wallen explains how to install the SPenDigitizer application and begin using your Samsung Galaxy Note tablet as a digitizer for your PC.

Getting started with Flipboard on the Web – Flipboard, the app that lets you tap and flip your way through digital magazines on smartphones and tablets, has come to laptops and desktops. You can now access your Flipboard account from a Web browser, complete with the flip animation — for better or worse. You can also use the Web app to create your own magazines to clip articles for later viewing via a bookmarklet.

Create a Windows 8.1 Preview dual-boot setup on your Windows XP system – Creating a dual-boot configuration by installing Windows 8.1 Preview on a partition of your existing hard disk will be a big advantage as you begin your experimentation. To begin with, you can investigate Windows 8.1, but when you need to get some work done, you can boot back into Windows XP. Then, when you are done experimenting, you can easily undo the dual-boot configuration.

Don’t Ask! Avoid unwanted toolbar offered in pushy Java installations – Soluto reports that 59 percent of all users who install the Ask toolbar end up disabling it. Soluto’s data backs up the theory that few people really want to install the Ask toolbar on their PC.

OpenOffice 4.0 arrives – It may be trailing LibreOffice, but OpenOffice is still alive and kicking — now with better Microsoft Office Open XML support.

Push your PC’s productivity with better, faster gear – You thought your PC was fine. It’s not that old, and you make sure it’s not loaded with bloatware or other software-level performance drags. And yet it still seems to wheeze as it boots up each morning, and applications take forever to launch. Your components could be to blame—hardware that’s due for an upgrade. Setting up a speedier system could be as simple as updating your USB ports with an external dock, or you could step up to speedier storage. Read on to find out how you can make your PC more productive.

Build your own supercomputer: First $99 Parallella boards ship – Linux is the top supercomputer operating system. But while you can build your own Linux supercomputer using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products, even with just Raspberry Pi boards, these don’t natively support massively parallel computing — the cornerstone of modern supercomputing. That’s where Adapteva, with its $99 Parallella parallel processing single-board supercomputer, comes in.

Icky or Not, New Ads Make Gmail Worse – Fortunately, the new Gmail inbox isn’t mandatory. You can get rid of it by clicking the gear icon on the top-right corner of the screen and going to “Configure Inbox.” From there, you can deselect all the boxes except “Primary” to go back to the old inbox. You can also just deselect “Promotions” if you like the new inbox sorting but don’t want to see the new ads.

Security:

Symantec spots two Android apps using ‘master key’ vulnerability – Hackers are now using a critical vulnerability in Android to modify legitimate smartphone applications, putting users at risk of being spied on. Security vendor Symantec wrote on Tuesday that it found two applications being distributed in Chinese Android marketplaces that have employed the “master key” vulnerabilities discovered earlier this month.

How to spot and avoid Facebook ‘Like’ scams – When you click or press the Like button, you may be disclosing more about yourself than you imagine. You may also be contributing to the bank accounts of Internet scammers.

Syrian Electronic Army hacked Tango, swiped user data – TangoMe Inc., the company behind Tango, confirmed the breach on its Twitter account, saying that it “experienced a cyber intrusion that resulted in unauthorized access to some data.” The company went on to state that it is in the process of improving its security system. This came after the Syrian Electronic Army posted screenshots as proof of their hacking endeavors.

Lakeland hacked and passwords reset, customers advised to change passwords elsewhere – Lakeland, the home of all things kitchenware, has been hacked. In a email sent to customers yesterday, it reported it had suffered a “sophisticated and sustained” attack, with the hackers gaining access through a “very recently identified” Java flaw.

S’pore launches new 5-year cybersecurity roadmap – Country’s third masterplan for the next five years focuses on enhancing the resiliency of critical infrastructure, and growing pool of homegrown cybersecurity professionals.

Company News:

iPod sales down 31% from last year, gets no mention from Apple – We’ve heard a lot of numbers from Apple today, including record iPhone sales for the third quarter, as well as iPad and Mac sales that were slightly down, but still better than expected by the company. However, what didn’t get mentioned at all in the press release or the earnings call was how well the iPod is doing.

Facebook wants to know why users hide News Feed items – Feedback could help increase engagement while serving up more relevant ads and limiting exposure of offensive content.

LinkedIn selling more marketing content into users’ feeds – The marketing content will be visible on desktop PCs as well as on smartphones and tablet devices, and will clearly be marked “sponsored,” appearing in the member’s homepage feed along with organic posts from their network and the companies that they already follow.

Foursquare Launches Self-Serve Ads for Small Businesses – The location-sharing social network on Tuesday launched self-serve ads, a new service designed to help small businesses reach potential customers. Foursquare is rolling out the new service to “a few thousand local businesses” today, before opening it up more broadly over the coming months.

Games and Entertainment:

Oculus Rift may be headed to smartphones – Oculus Rift, which made its Kickstarter debut last summer, can best be described as a high field of view (FOV), low-latency, consumer-priced virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD). According to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, the company is excited about the possibility of plugging the upcoming headset “right into a next-gen cellphone.”

Poker Holdem No Limit training software – Improve your game and test new strategies, by playing against up to 9 computer opponents having different playing styles. Highly configurable blinds structure using the open source poker-eval library for hand simulations, with a custom-built AI works as a standalone software, no need for an internet connection.

Riptide GP 2 Review – The developers at Vector Unit have this week unveiled Riptide GP 2 for the public, having created the original well over a year ago to waves of Android devices that still continue to jetski forth with this classic today.

Top 5: iOS Match Three Games – Bored and looking for fun games to pass the time? Try one of these match three games and you’ll be sure to get addicted.

The Walking Dead Gets No Emmy Respect – Zombies may be swarming the earth, but one of the only places they haven’t taken over is with the major award ceremonies. It’s great to see that two of the hottest shows on TV right now are Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. They’re both genre shows, and thankfully they’re also playing a big hand in finally bringing reality TV to an end.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Hey kids! Learn to be “cyber smart” from the NSA’s youth page! – Word searches, code games, and tips on how to behave online while surveilled.

Violence Is the Answer – It is far past midnight on July 14th. Passionate cries of protest can be heard through the night air outside the Florida State Capitol. Bright blue and shocking red lights flash over the grass and into my eyes now as heavy as the damp air and my heart at the news. The trial has passed, the evidence presented, a vicious fight wrought and the verdict has come down.

Vibrating bike seats!? Bicycling not on the list of banned pornographic pastimes – Apparently, in Britain, there is a sex store that sells a vibrating bicycle seat because, that is the only way anyone will ever, ever get pleasure from sitting on a bicycle seat. Bicycle seats suck. Bad choice of words, but now they massage the nether regions and provide bliss. The world teeters on the edge of an ironic abyss.

Grabbers Official Trailer #1 – Oh the irony, aliens invade the earth, their only weakness is alcohol and – they land in Ireland! (suggested by Michael F.)

Challenges unmet: Unclaimed prizes in science and technology – There are plenty of prizes still out there, driving innovation and inspiring hard work. Here is a selection of science challenges still waiting to be conquered.

Self-driving cars could create 1GB of data a second – Self-driving cars, which some experts have predicted will be readily available within five years, will come with a myriad of sensors creating machine-to-machine data at the rate of 1GB a second, according to one strategist.

The world’s first Google Glass porn movie – James Deen — well, who else? — is at the forefront of technology in a new movie that showcases Google Glass in a prostrate position.

Something to think about:

“We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.”

–     Talmud

Today’s Free Downloads:

OpenOffice.org – OpenOffice.org is a free, Open Source alternative to MS Office with a Word compatible word processor, a complete Excel compatible spread sheet program and a Power Point like presentation software and drawing program and also allows to save to PDF file. In addition, OpenOffice.org offers enhanced printing capabilities and options for direct connection with external email programs as well as form-letter management to send letters to addresses from a database.

BitDefender Free Edition 1.0.18 – BitDefender Free Edition uses the same ICSA Labs certified scanning engines found in other BitDefender products, allowing you to enjoy basic virus protection for no cost at all. This free antivirus software download is an on-demand virus scanner, which is best used in a system recovery or forensics role.

SmoothDraw 4.0.1 – SmoothDraw is an easy natural painting and digital free-hand drawing software that can produce high quality pictures. Support many kinds of brushes (pen, pencil, dry media, airbrush, bristle brush, image hose, etc.), retouch tools, layers, image adjustment, and many effects… Works great with tablets and Tablet PC.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 23, 2013

Automatically remove tracking tokens from URLs in Chrome, Firefox – Tired of having your Web browsing habits followed all over the Internet? Check out these add-ons for Chrome and Firefox so you can automatically remove the tracking code from links.

Should you keep using Windows XP? – It looks like a great many people will still be using XP next year and beyond, making it all the more dangerous. Now that I’m telling you not to stick with XP, what should you do? Here are some suggestions….

License plate scanning: The inside story of a cop who tracks our data – First our data packets, and now our license plates? Isn’t anything safe from the prying eyes of the government? But when you look at how plate scanning is being used at the street level, it’s easy to understand the zeal with which police have adopted it.

NSA Revelations Reframe Digital Life For Some – News of the U.S. government’s secret surveillance programs that targeted phone records but also information transmitted on the Internet has done more than spark a debate about privacy.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Tired of spam? Hand out a disposable email address – A new privacy tool called MaskMe may help people evade data harvesting efforts by websites and marketers. Many of the components of MaskMe, created by the privacy software developer Abine, are individually available elsewhere. But Abine has meshed them together into a convenient extension for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.

How to perfect your photo’s colors by adjusting white balance – Most people distinguish good photos from bad photos based on just a handful of factors: the focus, exposure, framing, and color balance. And while the first three are pretty obvious, color balance is the most mysterious. As a result, many snapshooters pay little or no attention to it, and that’s too bad—it’s easy to adjust, and can have an enormous effect on your photos.

3 reasons why tablets thrive while PCs dive – Tablets are growing so much in popularity that they will outstrip laptops shipped in 2013, IDC said, while tablets will exceed both laptops and desktops by 2015. There are three key reasons for the tablet’s success. First, tablets, on average, cost less than laptops or desktops — about 60% as much. Second, tablets are lighter and smaller, on average, and, therefore, more mobile, than laptops. Tablets with screen sizes that are less than 8 inches will make up 55% of the market in 2013………

SanDisk unveils wireless flash drives that hold up to 64GB – The new Media drive can stream up to five different HD movies at once to multiple devices. The new drives include the Connect Wireless Flash Drive — a thumb drive — and the Connect Wireless Media Drive, a larger, but still pocket-sized storage device. The Connect Wireless Flash Drive comes in 16GB and 32GB capacities; the Connect Wireless Media Drive comes in 32GB and 64GB capacities.

Three cool ways to tweak File Explorer in Windows 8 – Microsoft may have bungled a few things with Windows 8 (snark reply: “Just a few?!”), but File Explorer isn’t one of them. For one thing, the file manager finally earned a home on the Taskbar (even if you have to switch to the desktop to find it). Even better, Microsoft endowed it with the now-familiar Ribbon interface, making for much easier navigation of your files (and Explorer itself).

Best streaming-video apps for Android – We take a look at some of the best non-YouTube apps on Android for streaming TV shows, movies, and other videos from around the Web.

Best streaming-video apps for iOS – I take a look at the best apps on iOS for watching YouTube videos, movies, and TV shows from around the Web.

Surplus computing power on your Android? Donate it to science – Users of Android 2.3 or higher can become citizen scientists by downloading software and choosing the projects they want to power, such as fighting AIDS and finding new stars.

Security:

Cyberattacks account for up to $1 trillion in global losses – A new report by McAfee shows that hacking and cybercrime is costing the global economy billions; however, it’s not as bad as was previously reported. (In the meantime, governments worldwide are focused on  controlling YOU. Cybercriminals are laughing their asses off.)  

Cryptographer cracks the SIM card, millions of devices may be vulnerable – SIM cards have long been considered the most secure part of a phone, and they really have to be. After quite a lot of trying, one security researcher has managed to find a pair of vulnerabilities in SIM cards that could affect millions of devices. At the upcoming Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, German cryptographer Karsten Nohl will explain how he can remotely take over these millions of devices.

SIM card hack has severe implications for business – Lost and stolen phones have become an epidemic for the corporate world, and solutions to this dilemma have been unbearably slow in presenting themselves. Compound that with the risk that a large number of business devices may also be able to be attacked via a remote exploit and cell phones are looking increasingly like the weak link in any business’s infrastructure.

Apple Developer portal breach credited to security researcher – If you’ve been wondering why Apple’s Developer portal was down for a few days, blame it on a security breach. Apple announced yesterday that their dev center was hacked into, but no personal information was accessed, thankfully. So who’s behind the intrusion? A security researcher is taking the credit.

UK’s PM wants to ban child abuse search terms, but would that even work? – The British government wants Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to block Internet searches that are likely to lead to child abuse images. Internet search providers have until October to commit to banning lists of keywords deemed abusive or the government will consider legislation to force them, the U.K.’s Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday in a speech. (Another unworkable solution from a man who understands NOTHING about the Internet, or how pedophiles communicate. Search engines are NOT high on the list. Just another sleazy attempt to broaden government control.)

Stupidity is catchingMP Joy Smith wants Canada to copy David Cameron’s U.K. porn block – An influential Tory backbencher wants to follow the U.K.’s lead on child porn crackdown by pushing for installing a “porn block” for all web users.

How to spot and avoid Facebook ‘Like’ scams – When you click or press the Like button, you may be disclosing more about yourself than you imagine. You may also be contributing to the bank accounts of Internet scammers.

Company News:

Microsoft predicts another cruel quarter for PC sales – Microsoft is prepping Wall Street for a 2% slip in Windows revenue for the third quarter and warning that PC shipments will continue their double-digit tumble.

Google bigger than Facebook, Netflix and Instagram combined – Google, and its bevy of services, including Gmail, search, YouTube and Maps, now account for 25% of all Internet traffic in North America, on average, according to Deepfield, an Internet monitoring company that released the data. 25% sounds good but how significant is that in the online world? To put it another way, Google’s bite is bigger than Facebook, Netflix, and Instagram traffic combined, Deepfield said.

Canonical seeks crowdfunding to develop a smartphone-powered Ubuntu desktop – Canonical is trying to raise $32 million to fund development of a dual-booting, high-end smartphone on crowdsourcing site Indiegogo. Describing the Ubuntu Edge as the “next generation of personal computing,” the smartphone is intended to be a mobile device on the go that’s powerful enough to run a full desktop when docked to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

T-Mobile slams AT&T, Verizon’s ‘deceptive’ early upgrade plans – T-Mobile says its Jump program is materially different than early upgrade programs its larger rivals offer and it wants to educate the customer.

Google buys stake in Himax, maker of the Glass display – Google has acquired a small share of Himax Display Technologies, which is perhaps best known for rolling out the first USB 3.0 pico projector. Perhaps lesser known is its involvement with Glass, having created the tiny display on the device. The acquisition is still pending, and leaves room for additional shares.

Samsung to cut out Google middleman with own developers’ conference – There has reportedly been a bit of tension stirring between Google and Samsung over Samsung’s runaway success as the best-selling Android phone manufacturer. Google’s concern, according to unnamed sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal, is that Samsung might eventually try to throw its weight around to control the direction of Android or get a cut of Google’s “lucrative mobile ad business.”

Webopedia Daily:

In-memory database – A database that uses a system’s main memory for data storage rather than the disk-based storage typically utilized by traditional databases. In-memory databases, or IMDBs, are frequently employed in high-volume environments where response time is critical, as access times and database requests are typically considerably faster when system memory is used as opposed to disk storage, particularly hard drive storage.

Games and Entertainment:

10 strategy games that will sharpen your tactics – Strategy games are the best ways to have fun and sharpen those acute decision-making skills we all love to flaunt. Whether you’re planning the perfect assault, finding the most efficient supply chain, or simply running for your life to survive, it’s important to be able to formulate a plan. These games are the way to do it—starting with captaining your own deathtrap, er, spaceship.

Xbox One to record last five minutes of gameplay – We’ve known for awhile now that the Xbox One will be able to record your gameplay and upload those cool moves to YouTube for the world to see, but details as to how exactly that would work have been scarce so far. However, it’s been revealed that Microsoft’s new console will save the last five minutes of gameplay at any one time.

The Raven – The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief takes cues from mystery films of the 1960s and does a fantastic job, but the setting brings into sharp relief the shortcomings of the point-and-click genre—shoddy…

Off Topic (Sort of):

Cracked: 5 Terrifying Smartphone Hacks You Won’t Believe Are Possible – Sometimes we fail to appreciate the fact that today, right now, we’re living in a sci-fi universe. The smartphone is a miracle of mathematics and engineering genius, converting a little over 4 ounces of inert matter into a Star Trek-level wondercomputer. But the downside of storing your entire world inside an ass-pocket-dwelling supercomputer is that there are always those who are itching to turn that technology against you in ways you’d never expect, like …

Only 8 pilots in the world are certified to land in Bhutan (video 1:00) – Unbelievably extraordinary! Those pilots are awesome! (suggested by Michael F.)

Want life to feel pointless? Look at these photos of Earth from 900 million miles away – See that tiny bluish dot in the photo above? That’s Earth from 900 million miles away. Feeling small and insignificant yet? It’s simultaneously stunning and a little depressing, actually, to think that you exist on nothing more than a tiny, pale dot. Like ants on the sidewalk, almost.

Crisis? What Crisis? Check Out America’s Swankiest Law Offices – Today, the legal profession is awash with crushing debt, mass layoffs, and a distinct lack of upward mobility. One legacy of the old way: opulent offices designed to woo would-be customers into thinking that a particular firm is rock-solid. Here’s a gallery of some of the legal world’s greatest architectural hits. (suggested by Michael F.)

Facebook confirms men don’t care about royal baby – The social network analyzes the newborn’s first million Facebook mentions and finds out what people expected all along.

The saddest Web site on Earth – A new single-service Web site lets you know approximately how many more times you’ll get to see your parents before they die. Seriously.

Something to think about:

You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”

–     Malcolm X

Today’s Free Downloads:

Free Port Scanner 3.1.9 – Free Port Scanner is a small, fast, easy-to-use and robust port scanner for the Win32 platform. You can scan ports on fast machines in a few seconds and can perform scan on predefined port ranges. This tool uses TCP packets to determine available hosts and open ports, service associated with port and other important characteristics. The tool is designed with a user-friendly interface and is easy to use.

iSpy 5.3.2.0 – iSpy uses your webcams and microphones to detect and record movement or sound and provides security, surveillance, monitoring and alerting services. Any media that is captured is compressed to flash video and made available, securely over the web. iSpy can be setup to run on multiple computers simultaneously. iSpy is free, open-source software, so if you want it to do anything else, please download the source code and customise it to your requirements. (Terrific app – I’ve used this for years.)

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 22, 2013

US court renews permission to NSA to collect phone metadata – The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has renewed permission to the U.S. government for a controversial program to collect telephone metadata in bulk. The office of the Director of National Intelligence said the government filed an application with the FISC seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and the court renewed that authority, which expired on Friday. (An illegitimate court paints over illegality with a splash of patriotism – shades of 1930’s Germany.)

Foreign VPNs offer protection against US government spying – Foreign providers of virtual private networks trying to cash in on recently uncovered U.S. government surveillance can increase the level of secrecy of Web activity, experts say. However, no VPN vendor, foreign or domestic, sells a bulletproof defense against government snooping, given the resources and sophistication of spy agencies. However, using a service outside the U.S. does make the task of tracking and logging someone’s Web activity more difficult.

The key to cleaning up the internet is tackling the darknets, not letting censorship in by the back door – The UK government’s proposals for blocking search terms for illegal content aren’t only badly thought through, they’re dangerous.

App keeps NSA abreast of your phone activity – You want to show you have clean hands? Here’s USA PRISM Plus, an app that takes random shots of your phone and sends them to the NSA careers Twitter account.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 free tools that deserve a price tag – How would you feel about paying for the software you currently get for free? Here are some open source projects that deserve more than the odd donation. I’ve come up with my list of open source tools that deserve a price tag. I would pay to use every one. See how my list compares to yours.

Infographic: The Red Pill Reveals the Reality of Email Security – At first glance, driving and email security don’t have much in common. However, an infographic by cloud security provider SilverSky shows if you dig a little deeper, the two share important similarities. The company’s study, which examined corporate email security habits and perceptions, found that users were overconfident in believing they were more secure and cautious than their colleagues.

Netflix on your Android – It may not have quite the functionality of the full Netflix Web site, but the app is still a fantastic way to stream high-quality TV shows and movies while on the go.

Five Apps for disk defragmentation – So long as we continue to use and abuse our platter based drives, we will continue to need defragmentation apps. Because of this, the chore of disk defragmentation will still be with us for the foreseeable future, so long as we use and abuse our platter based drives to no end. To accomplish that task, here are five apps that will safely defragment such drives thoroughly and efficiently.

Transforming your old smartphone into a security system – What if there were a way to use those old smartphones to manage your smart home? Presence Pro is an app now gathering funding on IndieGoGo. The app allows users to recycle old smart devices to be used as a remote camera, reducing e-waste and increasing energy savings and home security in one simple piece of software.

The new Chrome App Launcher: Google’s backdoor into the offline world – On Friday, Google gave Windows users something that they’ve been pining for: A Start button. And even better than that, Google’s version keeps you on the desktop and actually opens a pop-up menu full of programs, unlike the nerfed Start button that’s slated to appear in the Windows 8.1 update.

Five task managers that improve on the Windows default – For some, the default does just fine. For others, the default client isn’t powerful enough or doesn’t offer the necessary options to really take control of a machine. Fortunately, for the power users, there are options available that not only duplicate the features of the Windows default Task Manager, but improve upon them.

Google starts sending adverts as emails to Gmail users – Blurring the line between emails and adverts will be viewed as a step too far for some users, including myself. Not only could these be classed as unwanted/spam emails, they just add to the number of emails you need to organize or delete. The good news is, it looks as though you do have some control over whether you receive these email adverts, but again, that could change at any time if Google decides to get more aggressive with its advertising push.

Locket pays you just for unlocking your Android device – Earning a little cash for doing next to nothing sure sounds good, doesn’t it? If you’re willing to hand over control of your Android lockscreen to a new app called Locket, you can earn money just by swiping to unlock.

Two ways to get your next PowerPoint presentation under way quickly – Let PowerPoint do as much of the work as possible. Early on, working in the Outline Pane will help you reduce repetitive tasks. Or, if the text exists in Word format, convert that Word document into slides! Either way, you’ll have a quick start on your presentation.

Pope OKs Indulgences for the Tweeting Classes – The Holy See’s social media guru, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, warned Friday that merely checking the pope’s Twitter feed won’t result in an indulgence, the ancient church tradition related to the forgiveness of sins that roughly amounts to a “get out of Purgatory free” card. (Martin Luther, where are you?)

Apple refunds dad $6,000 iPad bill racked up by 8-year-old – Incredibly, there are still some 8-year-olds who don’t know that in-game purchases involve real money. As Lily Neale’s aerospace designer dad discovers when his bank account is frozen.

‘Enterprise fanboys’ push back on TechNet shutdown – Microsoft’s sudden decision to shut down its TechNet subscriptions is drawing fire from some IT pros and trainers.

Security:

Ubuntu forums hacked; 1.82M logins, email addresses stolen – Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu operating system, has suffered a massive data breach on its forums. All usernames, passwords, and email addresses were stolen.

How to Stay Safe While Traveling – Summertime! Off to the beach, or to the mountains for some cooler temperatures. Visiting family or exploring new locales. Keep the following security tips from Grayson Milbourne, director of security intelligence at Webroot, in mind as you make your travel plans this summer.

SIM cards vulnerable to hacking, says researcher – IDG News Service – Millions of mobile phones may be vulnerable to spying due to the use of outdated, 1970s-era cryptography, according to new research due to be presented at the Black Hat security conference.

Does your IP address betray you to data-harvesters? – In today’s world of hackers, stalkers, and cybercriminals, not to mention government spy programs and commercial sites that collect information about you for advertising purposes, is there a way to surf the Web and keep your privacy intact? Or does that mere fact that you have an IP address mean that your identity is out there for the taking?

Amid Apple developer site outage, users report unauthorized password resets – Apple’s developer site has been down for two days. Some have received password reset e-mails that appear to be sent by Apple but were not authorized — suggesting foul play.

Company News:

Microsoft remains shackled to strategy after $900M ‘absolute abomination’ of a blunder – Microsoft’s massive $900 million Surface RT gaffe may have been, as one analyst put it, “an absolute abomination” in operations, but the company will not — cannot — give up on the ARM-based platform, experts contended today.

AMD continues move toward profitability – Keeping with its projection earlier this year, AMD’s CEO Rory Read said Thursday that the company would deliver a profit in the third fiscal quarter, which will be reported in September. The company is making progress as part of a “three-step strategy to restructure, accelerate and ultimately transform AMD for growth,” Read said in a conference call about earnings.

Dropbox buys mobile-app maker Endorse – It’s not clear whether Dropbox acquired Endorse for its talent or for its couponlike service (which, given Dropbox’s cloud-storage focus, perhaps seems unlikely).

Apple acquires navigation service Hopstop – Apple has snapped up local transit and directions service Hopstop to bolster its mapping services.

Update to Apple Store app will offer free iTunes, App Store content – report – New version of Apple Store app for iPhone and iPod Touch, to be released July 23, will promote Apple’s content apps, with some content offered free for a limited time, according to a report.

Webopedia Daily:

Rogue antivirus software – Also called smitfraud, scareware, or rogue security software, this type of software is defined as malware – it is designed specifically to damage or disrupt a computer system. In this case, not only is the software going to disrupt your system, it’s going to try and trick you into making a purchase using your credit card.

Games and Entertainment:

11 great Steam game deals you may not know about – There are thousands of games on Steam and more added (almost) every day. It’s great to have options, but unfortunately a lot of stunning games are lost in the shuffle.

Dead Rising 3 is an Xbox One launch game because Xbox 360 couldn’t handle it – The third Rising game is interesting not only because nobody minds a new entry in the series, but because it has been in development for such a long time. It turns out that’s because Dead Rising 3 wasn’t actually meant to be a next-gen game.

Ravenmark: Mercenaries – There’s no shortage of free-to-play turn-based strategy games to choose from on the App store, so you might be inclined to dismiss Witching Hour Studios’ Ravenmark: Mercenaries as yet another app for the pile. It doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, offering up genre standard conventions like asynchronous multiplayer and rock-paper-scissors style unit balancing. But Ravenmark: Mercenaries is different.

Digital comics successful sidekick to print, say publishers – Two years ago, digital comics rocketed to the front page when DC Entertainment rebooted and began publishing all its titles in digital as well as print. Now that most North American publishers have followed suit, they say digital has become a small but growing part of their business.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Code-breaker Alan Turing to be pardoned (finally) – Vilified by the British government for his homosexuality — a fact that many say led to his suicide — the famous mathematician and Enigma code-breaker is now likely to receive a posthumous pardon.

Guest blog posts drawing scrutiny from Google – Any place you can stuff a backlink to your business’s website is great, particularly if it’s on a noteworthy or popular site. But that conventional wisdom is changing, as many are questioning whether guest blogging may actually lead to penalties rather than better placement in search results.

Ars Technica System Guide: July 2013 – Since the early 2000s, the Ars System Guides have been helping those interested become “budding, homebuilt system-building tweakmeisters.” This series is a resource for building computers to match any combination of budget and purpose.

Microsoft was wrong: Tablets are not PCs. So now what? – The market has shown conclusively that people don’t want tablets that work like PCs. They’re different. Any attempt to force them together will fail.

Slideshow: 10 cool analog computers – In their heyday, analog computers handled heavy-duty math, scientific and industrial applications.

Scientists capture pitch drop on video after 69 years of watching – Physicists at Trinity College in Dublin have spent the last 69 years watching pitch, the black carbonaceous material made from petroleum products or plants, sit in a funnel. The hypothesis has been that this material is not a solid, but an extremely viscous fluid. Now they know for sure, having filmed a drop of pitch falling from a funnel.

Something to think about:

The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.”

–      Friedrich Nietzsche

Today’s Free Downloads:

KeePass Password Safe 2.23.0 – KeePass is a free/open-source password manager or safe which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key-disk. So you only have to remember one single master password or insert the key-disk to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish).

The Uniform Server 8.9.0 – The Uniform Server is a WAMP package that allows you to run a server on any MS Windows OS based computer. It is small and mobile to download or move around and can also be used or setup as a production/live server. Developers also use The Uniform Server to test their applications made with either PHP, MySQL, Perl, or the Apache HTTPd Server.

GameSave Manager 3.1.335.0 – Perhaps you have been victim of file corruption which also victimised your gamesaves? Maybe you just wish to transfer your gamesave(s) to your new machine, or to take with you to a friend’s? With GameSave Manager, you can easily backup, restore and transfer your gamesave(s).

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 19, 2013

New Jersey Supreme Court rules warrants needed for phone tracking – The New Jersey decision is the first to establish a constitutional right in location data since the U.S. Supreme Court decided in United States v. Jones, a GPS tracking case in which several Justices expressed concern about the collection of location data, Electronic Privacy Information Center said in a statement.

Today in People-Are-Spying-On-You News – Today we surrender to the glut of recent articles concerning security — personal, national and otherwise. You win, articles. You win. Here are your links.

Adult Tumblr blogs now removed from every form of search possible – Rather than leave adult content alone Yahoo’s Tumblr has eliminated its Erotica category, disabled search engine indexing for adult blogs, and removed adult Tumblrs from all internal search. Users are furious.

Telephone tech support scammers get the Feds riled up – According to the FTC, tech support scams are a problem. Yup. As if you didn’t have enough reasons to hate tech support now they are going to get you proactively and not even wait for a call. Seriously, what rock do you live under when you decide to devote your life to scamming people, most of whom are really quite naive and innocent, making them ideal marks.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Study: Mobile Antivirus Apps Fail the Spyware Test – Against nine apps that offer spyware-like features, no vendor detected more than six of the nine, with the lowest-ranking only detecting a third of the threats.

OK, so what doesn’t Google do? (pictures) – Ads, ads, ads. It’s what makes the Google world go round. And it helps subsidize nearly everything that Google offers. And that includes a myriad of products, rich with features, that keep us coming back, and clicking. With all eyes on what Google is going to do next — and it’s doing plenty — let’s take a closer look.

Sony to sell ‘world’s first’ SD card-based backup for PCs – The company says it will soon launch a new line of SD cards and accompanying software that will allow laptop users to carry their backups along with them while on the move. The solution is meant to take advantage of the memory card slots that are increasingly standard on portable computers, but are rarely used other than for transferring data from digital cameras or camcorders.

Are you a VIP? This facial recognition tech knows it – New NEC software can identify celebrities and other glam customers in real time, sending an alert to retail or hospitality staff that someone is in immediate need of doting service.

Malaysia ‘sex’ bloggers hauled up for sedition – The couple who gained notoriety for their sexually explicit blog has been charged with sedition, after posting a photo on Facebook which angered many over its religious undertone.

CNBC’s Jim Cramer implies Snapchat is used for insider trading – Buzzy 2-year-old Snapchat makes mobile applications for exchanging pictures and videos that vanish within seconds. Adolescents are absolutely enamored with the app because of the fleeting nature of moments that won’t come back to haunt them. It turns out that Wall Street types may be craving the same freedom from accountability, albeit for more duplicitous purposes.

Security:

The cops are tracking my car—and yours – Law enforcement agencies love them. The federal government is even encouraging local law enforcement (through federal grants) to purchase more for several thousand dollars apiece. But LPRs aren’t just looking for stolen cars; they capture every plate that they see. In some cases, they retain that plate, location, date, and time information… indefinitely.

New vulnerability in Java 7 opens door to 10-year-old attack, researchers say – Security researchers from Polish vulnerability research firm Security Explorations claim to have identified a new vulnerability in Java 7 that could allow attackers to bypass the software’s security sandbox and execute arbitrary code on the underlying system.

Oracle ships giant raft of patches – but none of them for Java – Oracle’s latest Patch Tuesday has come and gone, with the database-and-more behmoth putting out patches for 89 vulnerabilities. This is the last time that Java and the rest of Oracle’s product set will get scheduled updates separately.

Symantec: Google Glass still vulnerable to Wi-Fi attack – Google fixed one Wi-Fi security problem with its wearable computer Glass, but Symantec says there’s another problem, which has been a long-known weakness in wireless networking.

As Nasdaq’s site hit by hackers, report says half of world’s exchanges suffered cyberattacks – According to a report, half the world’s financial exchanges suffered cyberattacks in past year. And on Thursday, hackers hit the Nasdaq’s Community pages.

Huawei accused of spying for China by former CIA boss – Late last year, allegations had surfaced regarding Chinese handset makers ZTE and Huawei, with claims being tossed around that they were spying on behalf of the Chinese government. Both makers rejected the claims, and Huawei went on to offer unrestricted access to its software code in an effort to prove its innocence. Nearly a year later, and now former CIA boss Michael Hayden has spoken out, stating that Huawei did provide information to the Chinese government. (Mirror imaging: Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Verizon, AT&T, …………. – all complicit in the capturing and the transmission of data to the ruling party in the Excited States.)

Huawei fed up, tells US-UK ‘shut up’ – Chinese telecom equipment maker lashes out against what it says is discriminatory and defamatory treatment by the U.S. and U.K. governments, demanding they “put up or shut up”.

Company News:

Microsoft writes off nearly $1B to account for Surface RT bomb – Microsoft today took an unexpected $900 million charge to account for what it called “inventory adjustments” for the Surface RT, the poor-selling tablet that debuted last year. The company has been aggressively discounting the Surface RT, which runs the scaled-down Windows RT, a tablet-specific version of Windows 8 that relies exclusively on the “Modern,” nee “Metro,” tile-based user interface and app ecosystem.

Online ad group accuses Mozilla of anti-business bias – In a long — almost 4,000 words — and often-rambling blog post, Randall Rothenberg, the CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) took Mozilla to task over the open-source company’s revamped third-party cookie blocking scheme, a point of contention between the online ad industry and the browser builder since the latter unveiled plans to block some of the cookies used by online advertisers to track users’ Web movements, then deliver targeted ads.

South Korea drops antitrust investigation against Google – South Korea has dropped a two-year anti-competition probe into Google’s Android smartphone operations in that country, sources close to Google confirmed Thursday. The investigation, which was based on claims that Google had pressured Android phone manufacturers to block search engines or other applications that rivaled its own, has ended with no finding of a violation of law, sources said.

Ford sued over defective MyFord Touch infotainment systems – Ford’s advanced MyFord Touch infotainment systems are the focus of a new class-action lawsuit that’s been filed, noting that they’re defective and don’t work as advertised. The lawsuit also states that Ford knew that the infotainment system had issues, but sent them out to the public anyway without telling customers.

Webopedia Daily:

Virtual Ethernet (vEth) – A virtual interface within a network switch that dynamically provisions virtual machine (VM) operations based on network policies stored in the switch. The IEEE 802.1Qbg working group is responsible for developing the official virtual Ethernet (vEth) specification, and is tasked with creating a virtual Ethernet standard that will provide access for network controls in virtualized environments comparable to the controls available in physical networks. The virtual Ethernet (vEth) standard is expected to include a virtual Ethernet port aggregator, or VEPA, as well as Ethernet virtual bridging (EVB), in addition to other technologies that facilitate connecting VMs to an external network. More than two dozen companies are contributing to the virtual Ethernet standards effort, including Cisco, HP, Dell, EMC, IBM and BLADE Network Technologies.

Games and Entertainment:

Crytek is porting CryEngine to Linux – Game developer Crytek isn’t just well known for its game, the company develops and licenses one of the best 3D game engines on the market. The latest version of that engine, CryEngine 3, supports development on Windows, PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U. But it looks like Linux will soon be added to that line up.

Super Mega Worm Slithers into Google Play, Eats People – With a name like Super Mega Worm, you pretty much know what you’re getting into. This game is about a giant, hungry, death worm causing mayhem. After hanging around iOS for a while, Super Death Worm has burrowed its way to Android.

Ninja Striker! – Despite Japanese warriors being cliché video game territory, Ninja Striker! dances on the knife’s blade with great skill—balancing a surprisingly well executed game with an adorable and somewhat familiar world.

Angry Birds Star Wars Game Coming to Consoles Oct. 29 – Though Rovio is prepping for the launch of Angry Birds Star Wars II, the original Star Wars game will soon be available on all consoles. On Oct. 29, U.S. gamers will be able to pick up their copy of Angry Birds Star Wars for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Colorado town considers issuing drone hunting licenses – If you’ve got your valid license, and you should happen to spot a drone, you can’t just open fire on it with whatever you have around. No, that would be irresponsible. You may only use a shotgun, 12 gauge or smaller with a barrel length of 18 inches or greater. To collect $100, all you have to do is present your valid drone hunting license along with the wreckage of an unmanned aerial vehicle that can be positively identified as owned or operated by the United States federal government.

Smile! Earth’s pic to be taken from space on Friday, Saturday – Do your hair and put on your Sunday best on Friday because Earth will be having its picture taken. Two NASA spacecraft, one studying Saturn’s system, the other observing Mercury, are maneuvering into place today to take long-distance pictures of Earth on Friday and Saturday. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which is nearly 900 million miles away from Earth in Saturn system, will snap Earth’s image between 5:27 p.m. and 5:42 p.m. ET on Friday.

This motion-sensing t-shirt will give you spidey senses – ThinkGeek’s T-shirts have long since provided us with electronic super powers, ranging from ones that find Wi-Fi networks to ones that will play your personal soundtrack wherever you go. ThinkGeek’s newest offering, though, will give you spidey senses. This Spiderman-adorned T-shirt comes with a motion sensor that clips onto the back of your collar and vibrates to warn you of anyone that comes within five feet of you from behind.

Microsoft Kinect used to read sign language – The Kinect has largely been a device meant for gaming on the Xbox 360, but since its release, it’s been hacked and modified in so many ways. We’ve seen many different projects arise from the use of the Kinect, with the latest one being from Microsoft themselves, where they’re experimenting with sign language detection with the Kinect sensor.

New wetsuits act as shark invisibility cloaks – There have been many methods and products to help you escape from an encounter with a shark, from underwater shark cattle prods, to magnetic repellents. Whether or not these methods truly work, there is one underlying common thread: the sharks still see you and know you’re there. Now, however, with a new camouflage wetsuit, the sharks may not even know you exist.

Something to think about:

You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”

–      Ray Bradbury

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair – Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including registry errors and file permissions as well as issues with Internet Explorer, Windows Update, Windows Firewall and more.

Right Click Enhancer 4.1.1 – Right Click Enhancer gives you power to control the ultimate right click menu everyone use every day.Right Click Enhancer allows yo to edit your right click menu in the way you want. Now with help of this wonderful tool you can add some good stuff to your right click context menu.

Blender 2.68 – Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.

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