Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 17, 2013

NSA sued by coalition headed by EFF over US-based telephone surveillance – This week the Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced that they’re heading a coalition of groups – 19 in all – in a lawsuit targeting the NSA. The National Security Agency is under the microscope in this suit which suggests the government be obligated to inventory and make public (or at least let it be known what they’ve got) before they destroy all data collected in what’s known as the Associational Tracking Program.

Constitution ‘suffering’ from NSA secrecy, says Microsoft – A strongly worded letter from Microsoft’s general counsel to Attorney General Eric Holder says secrecy about National Security Agency surveillance is harming fundamental “constitutional principles.”

Five free application launchers to make a better Windows desktop – I cannot tell you how many desktops I see during the day awash in icons. How end users manage to get anything done is amazing. When I have to work on one of those desktops, I wind up having to scan through the multitude of icons to get anything done. For those clients, I tend to recommend third-party launchers – at least to get their application shortcuts set in such a way that the software they need to use can be quickly launched – or at least better organized.

6 awesome new Android apps you should check out – Android used to really be hurting for good apps, but as the platform grew, developer interest grew along with it. There are enough new apps and games flowing into Google Play that is can be easy to get overwhelmed. So here are six of the best new Android apps and games.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Silver Reader – A simple layout which supports all formats and popular extensions. Ultra fast and FREE. (recommended by Michael F.)

GlassBridge turns Android apps into Glass apps – The funny thing about Glass is that it uses Android, and there are tons of Android apps out but it can’t run them. GlassBridge will help out with that.

How Not to Get Addicted to Social Media – In a world that seems to be saturated with social media use, it can be difficult to recognize the very blurry line between normal usage and dependence. Much like drugs or alcohol, social media can become a real addiction for those that are prone to compulsive behavior. Maintaining a normal level of connectivity with the people on your friends list without becoming so fixated on those sites that you begin to miss out on face-to-face interaction is possible, but it requires a certain level of discipline and the ability to objectively appraise your own level of social media usage.

Home of the strange: The web’s weirdest places – The Internet is a strange, odd, whacked-out place. Yes, there are some crazy people out there, and many of them have found the web to be a powerful outlet for their craziness.

Instagram Explorer puts Instagram on display in Windows 8 – You may think an Instagram app that doesn’t allow you to take pictures would be kind of pointless…but Instagram Explorer, a Windows 8 app for the Modern user interface, has plenty of potential. Using it is not unlike browsing through the site, but Instagram Explorer brings that experience to Windows 8’s alternative view.

Gaming Twitter: How one man turns fake followers into windfall profits – Short on friends? James Clegg can sell you a few. How about a thousand or so followers on Twitter, delivered overnight for about a penny apiece? Clegg (not his real name) is part of a growing and extremely profitable underground that thrives on the sale of followers on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social networks. But Twitter—where your follower count can be a prized badge of honor—is where the real money is.

How to stretch the life of your SSD storage – Once a PC enthusiast’s dream storage device, the solid-state drive (SSD) is quickly becoming commonplace in custom PC builds and retail desktops alike. After taking a detailed look at SSD technology, we’re moving on to basic care and feeding—how to stretch the life of your drive. All it takes is a little education, and some new ways of managing storage that have nothing to do with your traditional hard drive’s maintenance routine. (On a personal note: This past week an SSD on one of my machines – an OCZ vertex Plus – bit the dust with less than 18 months usage – not impressed.)

Little-known iPad tricks – Discover the iPad’s hidden keys, set it to read selected text, and get quick access to hundreds of emoticons, plus four other handy iPad customizations.


Test Your Security IQ: Do You Know Your Android Mobile Threats? – Do you know what dangers are lurking out there, just waiting to pounce on your unsuspecting Android device? Test your knowledge of Android security!

How to tackle JavaScript-based ransomware sites – Ransomware holding you and your computer hostage? Don’t worry, its scheme can easily be overcome.

Windows 8.1 steps up security with biometrics, encryption, and more – From antivirus and malware protections in IE 11, to remote wiping of data, the new OS offers a safer experience.

Android’s very real ‘Master Key’ vulnerability – Android Master Key cryptography ensures applications are not tampered with. Michael P. Kassner interviews researchers who say the crypto process is severely flawed.

Tumblr iPhone app fixed after plaintext password goof spotted – Tumblr has been forced to rush out a patched version of its iPhone and iPad apps, and has advised all users to change their password, after researchers discovered the apps had been transmitting login credentials in plain text.

Asus patches its Wi-Fi routers’ AiCloud vulnerabilities – Asus is rolling out a new firmware update, version, that addresses security holes caused by the AiCloud, a storage-based feature available in its USB-enabled Wi-Fi routers.

Company News:

Yahoo profit rises by 46%, though sales still drag – Yahoo’s profits rose by 46 percent in the second quarter, aided by nearly a dozen product launches, though sales at the company were still down. CEO Marissa Mayer called the results encouraging.

HBO demands Google take down VLC torrent listing – It’s not uncommon for media companies to send in DMCA takedown requests to Google in order to have it removed from search listings and indexing, but sometimes it can get a bit ridiculous. Case in point: HBO is demanding that Google remove a link to a torrent listing of a version of VLC, the popular open-source media player.

OLPC starts selling its kid-friendly XO Tablet at Walmart – Amazon might have been chosen for OLPC’s first major retail push, but this time around it’s Walmart that has snagged the exclusive. The Foundation’s XO Tablet is now up for pre-order on

Microsoft denies giving NSA direct access to email – Microsoft does not give the U.S. National Security agency direct access to its customers’ email or instant messages, contrary to previous news reports, a company executive said. News reports last week suggested that Microsoft has helped the NSA circumvent the company’s own encryption in order to conduct surveillance on email accounts through, but company General Counsel Brad Smith said Tuesday that’s not true.

Intel paves the way for on-chip gesture recognition with Omek buy – Intel has given its perceptual computing division a big boost by acquiring Omek, an Israeli company focused on motion-sensing tech. Omek has likely been on Intel’s radar since 2011, when Intel Capital led the way on a $7-million funding round.

Apple TV taking over the living room, claims over half of streaming box market – As the company stands now, Apple may not seem too invested in the television space. All they have is the Apple TV to show for it, compared to a slew of mobile products like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Obviously, this seems to be changing, as CEO Tim Cook has said himself that Apple is interested in television, but seeing as how they only have the Apple TV, the company owns 56% of the streaming box market.

Webopedia Daily:

Storage management – Storage management is a general storage industry phrase that is used to describe the tools, processes, and policies used to manage storage networks and storage services such as virtualization, replication, mirroring, security, compression, traffic analysis and other services. The phrase storage management also encompasses numerous storage technologies including process automation, real-time infrastructure products and storage provisioning.

Games and Entertainment:

Oculus Rift hack puts user inside Black Armor Drone with first-person view – The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset was originally developed with only gaming in mind, but since the company has been sending out units to game developers, the headset has been used for all sorts of neat things. Most recently, the Oculus Rift has given users a first-person view of RC drones thanks to a little hack.

Mad Max trailer and screenshots show off a glimpse of gameplay – The only thing we really knew about the new Mad Max game, which was shown off back during Sony’s E3 keynote, is that it seems to ignore the first entry in the film franchise, and opts for the post-apocalyptic wasteland theme. We also know that the developers, Avalanche, stated that Max will be portrayed with an Australian accent. Now, with the release of a new trailer, we finally get a glimpse of the game’s actual gameplay — albeit, just a glimpse.

Xbox One joins “play as you download” club – Speaking up after the fact that Sony’s console would offer such a service – and perhaps seeing the high-fives and thumbs up given in response – Microsoft has issued a statement on their machine’s ability to work with downloading games well before they’re fully downloaded.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Google Street View visits Eiffel Tower, provides birds-eye view of Paris – Google has expanded its Street View imagery once again, this time taking a trip to one of the most iconic structures in the world. Google trekked the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France and used the Street View trolley to show what it looks like to stand on top of the Eiffel Tower and look out onto the city of love.

Phone out of juice? Scientists want to recharge it with urine – It’s a liquid gold rush! Scientists find yet another way to power our smartphones (and other devices) with pee.

Queen Victoria’s gadgets: Tech gear for the steampunk set – Occupying a fantastic world where Charles Darwin meets Steve Jobs, steampunk-modded devices blend 19th- and early 20th-century styles with 21st-century tech. Get an eyeful of these cool and clever computers, cellphones, speakers and more.

What IT recruiters know about you – The big data approach to IT recruitment is catching on fast, for hard-to-find software developers in particular, and it could spread to other jobs.

Cut your time in purgatory by following pope on Twitter – If you need an indulgence for your sins, follow the pontiff at Catholic World Youth Day. But your click should come from the heart.

Something to think about:

If you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others.”

–   Tryon Edwards

Today’s Free Downloads:

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

Artweaver Free 4.0 – Artweaver lets you paint creatively with the help of a huge range of painting tools.

NetBalancer Free 6.7.1 – Use NetBalancer to set download/upload transfer rate priority for applications and monitor their internet traffic.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 17, 2013

  1. The article on Application Launchers forgot to mention the best of all of them: ClassicShell ( )
    Totally free. Has worked since early Windows 8 beta days. No hidden junk and no nag screens or attempts to persuade you to purchase anything.

    • Totally agree Bob. Wouldn’t be without it.

      My SSD (only 16 months old) gave up the ghost this past weekend. First app on the Win 8.1 reinstall on the replacement – ClassicShell. Like I said – wouldn’t be without it. 🙂

      Thanks for the input.