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.


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.

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