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.


‘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 – 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 – 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.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

10 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 25, 2013

  1. 217 voted to keep NSA alive ?
    Time to get a list together of those that don’t think much of their constituents rights/freedoms and vote them out of office.

    • Precisely, Bob.

      As is often said – “One can ignore reality – but, one cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” Time for these marginally intelligent sycophants to faced the consequences of ignoring reality.



  2. delenn13

    I am back from 2 weeks of camping…

    Nothing to Prove – Geek Girls & The Doubleclicks – YouTube

    Yea, I remember the rolled eyes and the smirks when I mentioned “Star Trek”, sci-fi or any of my games. I. Am. A. Geek.

  3. Charlie

    Hi Bill:
    Re: 10 Most Common Printer Problems Solved
    Thanks to this, I was able to get my HP printer running! (I hate printers!) Thanks!

  4. You can view a video I put together of Junkware Removal Tool 5.2.2 at: