Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 8, 2013

The outrage about Prism spying is wearing off already – As the saga surrounding the revelations about the National Security Agency’s Prism program unfolded, I half expected a public figure to arise and declaim, a la Howard Beale in the movie Network, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” I’m still waiting. (An American centric article which fails to recognize that the “world” is somewhat larger than America. So, here’s a news flash for the author, and his confreres – DISGUST, DISTRUST, AND CONTEMPT CONTINUES TO MOUNT IN THE REST OF THE WORLD. YOU KNOW – THE OTHER 95.6%.)

Top 10 home Wi-Fi network errors (and how to fix them) – We’ve asked a bunch of home networking companies and other experts to provide us with a bunch of scenarios where they’re seeing a majority of customer service requests, along with how you can quickly fix these “mistakes.” We’ve ordered the list from the mistakes made at the beginning of the setup process, to mistakes made during configuration and post-network setup.

Reliability Monitor is the Best Windows Troubleshooting Tool You Aren’t Using – When it comes to hidden gems in Windows, nothing beats the Reliability monitor tool, hidden behind a link inside of another tool that you don’t use either. Why Microsoft doesn’t shine more light on this really useful troubleshooting tool, we’ll never know. (recommended by Keith P.)

Facebook begins rolling out Graph Search to U.S. Users – The search engine will allow people using Facebook to more quickly find answers to questions about friends in their Social Graph.

MIT researchers immerse you in your Gmail data – A new visual data program called Immersion from the MIT Media Lab invites users to hand over their Gmail address and password in exchange for seeing how they really use the Google messaging system. The result of NSA-ing yourself, as some have come to refer to this process, is a color-coded sort of word cloud in which you can see at a glance via different sized circles which people you interact with most, and more.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The occasionally distracting (but totally worth it) Dictionary of Numbers extension – If you read anything on the Internet, you see large number all the time. Dictionary of Numbers helps try to put that information into a format you can better appreciate by relating that number to other things. Like most Chrome extensions, when I first saw the Dictionary of Numbers I thought it was cute and moved on. Roughly a week later a friend of mine showed me examples of how it had actually proven useful throughout her day to day experiences on the web, so I decided to give it a try.

Infographic: The Internet, Then And Now – WhoIsHostingThis journeyed back to 1969, when the U.S. military-funded research network Arpanet connected four computers, to take a look at the Internet, then and now.

Infographic: The Music Consumption Times, They Are A-Changin’ – A recent surge of digital music services has helped to launch a new era of consumption — one that no longer requires a trip to the local record store.

Sex, Alcohol and Oversharing: What makes us reveal too much on Facebook and Twitter? And why do we do it? – There it is. On your Facebook feed: a picture of a tall, clear glass full of what looks like a red smoothie. “That looks good,” you think. And then you read the caption: “Mommy’s First Placenta Shake. It tastes like heaven. I put lots of pineapple, orange and mango sorbet. Yummmm!” Congratulations: you’re a victim of an extreme social-media overshare.

How to make your Bluetooth speaker sound better – Try the Audiophiliac’s simple experiments, and you might get better sound. It’s easy to do and it’s free.

Fake Twitter accounts go for big bucks in underground – The underground economy that sells fake Twitter and other social media accounts is now so large that is it easily making millions of dollars for the leading abusers, an updated study by Barracuda Networks has found.

State Department spent over half a million to boost Facebook page “likes” – According to an inspector general’s report, the government spent approximately $630,000 from 2011 through 2012 to increase the number of “likes” the State Department’s Facebook page received. While the initiative was successful, having increased the numbers on the page dramatically, many critics are speaking out against the action, calling it a waste of money.

Pakistan court orders YouTube block to continue – A court in Pakistan has ordered a continuation of the block on YouTube in the country, after the government argued that a removal of the ban would have implications on law and order in the country.

A tool to catch sarcasm online – sounds great…. – French company Spotter is going to help the British Home Office identify sarcastic comments posted online.


Skype flaw allows Android lock screen to be cracked – A Skype bug that enables an attacker to bypass the lock screen on several Android mobile devices demonstrates once again the need for additional security to protect corporate data against such flaws, experts say.

Encrypted IM app left vulnerable to snooping for 7 months – Despite being an open-source security project, three lines of code that made encryption keys easy to break have gone unnoticed in instant messenger application Cryptocat.

‘Darkleech’ malware attacks servers, demands ransom – A persistent, widespread malware campaign that utilizes compromised Apache servers is locking users’ computers and demanding a fee of $300 to free their data. Researchers from Eset wrote that the ransomware scam is an extension of a long-running attack that compromises the infrastructure of web hosting companies with a variant of a malicious Apache module called “Darkleech.”

Spam blizzards sometimes seed malware, AppRiver study warns – Digital desperadoes have begun hiding their larcenous activities behind blizzards of spam aimed at their victims’ inboxes, according to a report released last week by a cloud security provider. Spam attacks may last from 12 to 24 hours, and inundate an inbox with as many as 60,000 messages, according to AppRiver’s research. The purpose of the assault is to prevent a target from reading their legitimate email.

Club Nintendo site hacked, customer data exposed – Game console maker’s Web site with 4 million members in Japan was breached and personal data such as e-mail addresses exposed, but the company did not confirm if the information had been misused.

Company News:

Google ordered to change its privacy policy in the UK – The U.K. Information Commissioners Office has ordered Google to change the privacy policy it introduced early in 2012 to make it more informative for users. If Google does not change its policy to comply with the U.K. Data Protection Act by September 20, it could face formal enforcement action, the ICO said in a news release on Thursday. ICO can issue monetary penalties of up to $752,000 for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Samsung’s weirdest ‘Apple is rotten’ ad ever – Apparently, Apple phones just don’t work. They make you suffer terribly. Once you get a Samsung, you perform a mating dance toward a mountain ram. At least that’s what this new ad from Iceland says.

Samsung Misses Expectations, Shares Take a Hit – Can Samsung step up its game in the low-cost smartphone market? Or will its semiconductor business have to prop up high-end smartphone sales to a saturated market?

FCC approves Sprint-SoftBank deal – The FCC unanimously gives the green light to SoftBank’s $21.6 billion bid for Sprint Nextel as well as Sprint’s purchase of Clearwire.

Non-Apple companies hold iWatch trademark in U.S., U.K., China – Apple faces trademark trouble in the U.S., U.K., parts of Europe, and China, where other companies hold the trademark for the name “iWatch.”

Webopedia Daily:

Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) – A company-wide process from Microsoft for performing regular code reviews for Microsoft software products to reduce security issues and resolve security vulnerabilities in a timely fashion. Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) efforts are grouped into seven phases: training, requirements, design, implementation, verification, release and response.

Games and Entertainment:

Games are the target of most malware, McAfee reports – Games are the most common form of malware-infected app, according to Mobile Security: McAfee Consumer Trends Report for June 2013. Cybercriminals abuse app permissions to install malware and use innocent victims to be lured into scams by encouraging them to try free apps. The McAfee study shows that consumers often overlook the issue of protecting their privacy when downloading apps and the reason is they do not clearly understand the level of damage that can be done by giving this kind of permission.

Apple App Store promo sees top titles given away – Apple has quietly discounted a number of high-profile iOS apps, making titles like Infinity Blade II and Tiny Wings free in what appears to be a promotion for the the 5th anniversary of the App Store. There’s currently no official word from Apple on the sale, nor indeed a conclusive list of which titles have had their prices cut, but there are some big savings to be made: Traktor DJ, for instance, is usually a $19.99 download for the iPad version.

Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is the Newest Must-have Game on iOS – The graphics are an interesting combination of retro and modern. It’s slightly pixelated, but all the animations and gameplay are super-smooth. Icebreaker is a bit like a high-resolution SNES game. The environments are varied and really fun. This title definitely has a distinct style. The iPhone version of Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is $0.99, and the iPad edition is a bit more at $2.99. There are in-app purchases, but the game doesn’t push them on you.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days – Telltale’s truncated 400 Days DLC doesn’t live up The Walking Dead’s legacy of real pathos amidst a fictional zombie outbreak because it doesn’t have time for the slow burn. There’s plenty of surprises.

Moga Pro Turns Android Phones into Portable Gaming Systems – Improved design over the original makes it the Android game controller to beat.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The first arrest filmed on Google Glass? – A Google Glass explorer happens to be on a New Jersey boardwalk when a fight breaks out. His footage shows how easy it is to film, well, anything surreptitiously with Google’s glasses.

Cracked: The 25 Worst Things They Could Sell as Downloadable Content – If the way video games are headed is any indication, soon everything you do can only be done after you’ve downloaded something. We asked our readers to show us the most inconvenient scenarios DLCs could turn up in.

Canada and Ontario Will Celebrate Pope John Paul II Day – The House of Commons in Canada has passed a bill declaring that Canada will celebrate Pope John Paul II Day on April 2nd every year [An Act to establish Pope John Paul II Day]. Meanwhile, in Ontario, a similar bill was passed by the provincial legislature. (recommended by Michael F.)

(Canada, and Ontario (where I live), continues to go to hell in a hand basket, economically – but, these morons have time to debate and celebrate a sky-fairy cult! I want my taxes back! I want their wages docked for inefficiency and stupidity!)

Kids and Tech: Is It Going Too Far? – When I was a kid, I was obsessed with technology. Any product I could get my hands on, I would use. And when I had a chance to pick up a game console, you can bet I was rushing to the stores to get one. Technology ruled much of my childhood. Still, I was able to handle the real world. I could converse with both kids and adults, and I was engaged enough in school to know that there was a time and place for my technology.

Video Demonstrates Bug-Sized Lethal Drones Being Developed By U.S. Air Force (video 4:10) – The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf points to a National Geographic piece on the future of drone technology, including one fascinating passage on how the U.S. Air Force is developing “micro-drones” the size of tiny creatures, capable of flying through major cities unnoticed.

SolePower charges smartphones by harnessing walking power – Looking to solve the issue of a dead phone battery and no power outlet in sight, a new invention on Kickstarter says it can capture, generate, and store power within a shoe insole.

Leaning on a window? Hey, here’s an ad pumped into your brain – Broadcaster Sky Deutschland claims that it may soon pump ads directly into the brain of passengers who lean their heads on train windows.

Something to think about:

The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

–    Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

LinuxLive USB Creator 2.8.23 – LiLi USB Creator is a handy, easy to use application designed to enable you to create a bootable Live USB key with a Linux on it. This software also offers an exclusive option of automatic virtualization to directly run Linux in Windows without any configuration nor installation. LiLi is a completely free and open-source software for Windows only. It has been built with simplicity in mind and it can be used by anybody. All you have to do is to pick up a Linux in the list and give it a try.

UltraVNC – UltraVNC is an easy to use computer program that can display a screen of another computer (via internet or network) on your screen. UltraVNC will allow users you to use their mouse and keyboard to control the other PC remotely. It means that you can work on a remote computer, as if you were sitting in front of it, right from your current location.

Balabolka – Balabolka is a Text-To-Speech software application. All computer voices installed on your system are available to Balabolka. The on-screen text can be saved as a WAV or MP3 file. The program can read the clipboard content, view the text from DOC, RTF and HTML files, customize font and background colour, control reading from the system tray or by the global hotkeys. Balabolka uses various versions of Microsoft Speech API (SAPI); it allows to alter a voice’s parameters, including rate, pitch, and volume.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 8, 2013

  1. Laurence

    Hi Bill,
    some of friend of mine’s relatives posted an explicit information and photos of themselves to facebook without a fear of being exploited by others. I’m just dumbfounded by how naive users can be. I don’t trust the people with my personal information and the government as well. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls from the certain organizations that I’m not aware of, and I have asked them why and a person on the other end of the line told me that a certain person gave them my phone number. NSA can’t keep spying on Americans indefinite.

    “A majority of Americans—56 percent—say the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program tracking the telephone records of millions of Americans is an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism, though a substantial minority—41 percent—say it is unacceptable.”

    Best regard.

    • Hi Larry,

      You’re right of course – naivety is the operative for most in choosing which info to post. Understandable I think, given the vast number of applications/social sites which are geared toward “full disclosure” (if you know what I mean.)

      I suspect that the 41 percent who find the NSA antics “unacceptable” have a much better grasp of the issue than the shepple who buy into the need to support an organization which rapes their constitutional protection.

      Thankfully, in the rest of the world, where American jingoism falls flat, this issues continues to hold centre stage.



  2. delenn13

    Hey Bill,

    Public Safety Minister Vic Toews resigns – The Globe and Mail Awww, who is gonna keep us safe..from ourselves(since we are child pornographers Vic Toews accuses bill’s opponents of siding with child pornographers | Toronto Star)…???

    Or I could say…Don’t let the door hit ya, Vic……

    • Hey Delenn13,

      “Don’t let the door hit ya, Vic” – waaaaay to polite. lol

      Vic was just a cog (albeit a churlish cog) in a wheel, and he’ll be replaced with a shiny and less tarnished version. We ain’t won this battle yet, I’m afraid.

      Still, it’s great to see this revolting fascist pig being pushed back from the taxpayer funded smorgasbord.