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.


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 – This is an extremely simple and handy Windows software for editing mp3 files.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

6 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 30, 2013

  1. Alan Donson


    • Hi Alan,

      Couldn’t agree with you more. It makes a mockery of the Constitution and the visions expressed by those who fought for the dignity of humankind more than two centuries ago. The current government has literally defecated on the graves of those patriotic men and women.



  2. Fred

    Hi Bill!
    “PRISM: 50% of Americans approve of NSA’s internet spying program”
    Snowden, a hero, yet the masses don’t care. They are totally zombified by the mainstream media and the consumer society. This is a sad time in human history where evil triumphs and there is little to no resistance, and virtually ALL the means of communication, save for the internet, for now, is owned and operated by the enemies of freedom. Today’s OPPRESSORS are the “rebels” who demanded “Free Speech” in the 1960s “liberation” movement. It is all MADNESS, and here, at least, I can find some sanity. Thanks for keeping us informed on so many topics.

    • Hi Fred,

      I am one of those rebels from the ’60’s, and I have no hesitation in describing the majority of my generation as abysmal COWARDS – both physically and emotionally. On top of which, these same folks are pathetically inept at grasping the fundamentals of the issue at hand. Just an hour ago, I had an “bouncing boomer” drop by my office who was quick to inform me that Snowden has profited from selling all of his “secrets” to both China and Japan. My comeback is unfortunately not suitable for a family friendly site.

      How bloody hard is to get behind FREEDOM and, to never give up the fight until the enemy – there’s no mistaking who the enemy is, crawls back into the cave they call home? Obama, and his black shirted goon squads, can lead the way. What a pathetic piece of technology challenged robotic shit that man is. His leadership skills are virtually non-existent. Not a man who leads from the front.

      I despair when I consider the world that’s currently being shaped for my grandchildren. And yes, I blame their parents – my own children. Like the rest of their generation – X, Y, and whatever; they lack the emotional courage to resist Fascism.

      As for me – these bastards will have to take me down with a hammer. I’ll NEVER give up until we’re back in control.



  3. What’s always confused me is that no one thought they were doing this in the first place. I mean, of course the government is spying on everyone. I’m not saying it’s right, but I never doubted it, and I didn’t need someone to come out and tell me. It was the only logical assumption. Is this somehow a surprise to people?

    • Hey Writerdood,

      While it may be true that you, me, and perhaps most “wired-in” users have long suspected the truth – yes, this is a surprise to most. Is it surprising that this is a surprise when the government’s position is essentially – “keep ’em in the dark?”

      Despite the revelations, my experience has been that a typical user that I come into contact with, still doesn’t get it.

      Good to hear from you.