Monthly Archives: August 2013

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 30, 2013

Five free Dropbox tools you’re not using (but should be) – Dropbox is handy, but you can make it even easier to use with a wide range of products and services that work hand in hand with the cloud-based storage, syncing, and sharing service. Check out these five favorites for getting even more bang for your Dropbox buck.

How Your Facebook Friends Might Get You Denied a Loan – Going to be buying a new car soon? Thinking about buying a house? Then you may want to be careful who you associate with online: Companies are starting to look at your social media history as part of the decision to offer you a loan.

How to see what your Facebook profile looks like to others – If you’ve adjusted your Facebook privacy settings to something other than their defaults or use lists to organize your social circles, it’s generally a good thing to know how your profile page appears to others. After all, you might not want the entire world to know of your woe-filled past relationships. Luckily for you, it’s easy to do and it only takes a few steps.

All your passwords belong to us – Password hacks and new cracker tools surfaced this week to reinforce passwords are indeed sitting ducks. Will anything be done about it?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 8.1 RTM leaks to Internet – Windows 8.1’s RTM, which Microsoft announced only on Tuesday, has already leaked to file-sharing sites online. The leaked builds of Windows 8.1 RTM may have originated in China — home of most of the companies that build the world’s personal computers and tablets — because a Chinese-language edition was the first to appear. Within a short time, however, English editions of the RTM also popped up on file-sharing websites.

Recover lost or stolen devices – Technology is increasingly the target of crimes, but it can also be used to fight back against the perpetrators. There’s plenty you can do before, during, and after you lose a Web-connected device to increase the chances the gizmo will find its way back to you.

Three Months After Being Banned From The App Store, Bang With Friends Returns As “Down” – Bang With Friends, the Facebook friend hookup app that seemed to be endlessly engulfed in one controversy or another earlier this year, is returning to the iOS App Store (albeit in a slightly toned down form) after gettin’ the boot back in May.

Matchbox computers: Small is beautiful (and powerful) – Matchbox computers — small but powerful open-source devices — are a good way to build your own system and/or carry it with you. Here’s a slideshow of examples.

A federal push for mobile privacy has failed, critics say – Lobbyists derailed an effort by U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration to create mobile privacy standards, a privacy group charged on Thursday, while some participants in the process conceded it lacked focus.


Homeland Security Worried About Android Security – A report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security shows that the government is becoming increasingly concerned about Android security threats. If the feds are grappling with how to keep Android phones secure, maybe they should just ask us for advice.

Sysadmin security fail: NSA finds Snowden hijacked officials’ logins – The National Security Agency (NSA) is the font of information security wisdom for the US defense and intelligence communities. But apparently, the NSA’s own network security is so weak that a single administrator was able to hijack the credentials of a number of NSA employees with high-level security clearances and use them to download data from the agency’s internal networks. That administrator was Edward Snowden.

New York Times site hack shifts attention to registry locks – A registry lock is basically a mechanism under which any requests for changes to a domain name server have to be manually verified and authenticated by a top-level domain owner like Verisign and NeuStar, which operate the dotcom and dotbiz domains respectively.

Confidential data is leaving on workers’ mobile devices – If you think your BYOD policy telling employees that they can’t put sensitive data on their personal smartphones, laptops and tablets is keeping your company safe, think again. Few office workers are actually aware of their company’s BYOD policy.

Java 6 users vulnerable to zero day flaw, security experts warn – If businesses have failed to update the widely used but out-of-date Java 6 platform, they may be at heightened risk of cyberattack thanks to additions to commercial exploit kits.

Mobile phones, meet uncrackable quantum cryptography – After years of being relegated to optics labs alone, researchers at the University of Bristol say they have developed a way to send quantum cryptographic information to handheld devices from a central server.

Company News:

Best Buy lops half off iPhone 5 for trade-ins – The company is offering the deal from Friday through Monday for customers who trade in an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.

Facebook Updates Its Policy Documents Regarding How It Uses And Shares Your Data – Today Facebook proposed a raft of changes to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Data-Use Policies, two separate documents that govern the way the company handles advertising, user data, and the like.

Microsoft makes Surface sale prices permanent – Price cuts on the Surface Pro, Surface RT, and Touch Covers are made permanent, rather than promotional.

Verizon Wireless buyout drive is all about the dollar signs – Vodafone Group, which owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless, confirmed on Thursday that it is in talks with Verizon Communications to sell its minority stake to the U.S. parent company. Vodafone cautioned that there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to make a deal, but the companies have talked about it before and may be more motivated than ever.

Karbonn and Micromax surpass both Apple and Samsung in India – The depreciating Indian rupee isn’t keeping Indian consumers away from buying new devices. In fact, now they’re inclined to purchase domestic products instead of paying more for international brands.

Games and Entertainment:

US Army makes another video game public with Proving Grounds – In the game America’s Army: Proving Grounds, the actual real-deal United States Army has commissioned yet another shooting game for the public. This game is not the first game – and it wont be the last created for the Army to show off what it might be like to be a member of their ranks, and it’s being released in Beta mode to Steam this week. This game is entirely free to download, free to play, and aims to display small unit tactical maneuvers and training “that reflects the current day Army.”

Hands On With The Seven Best Fantasy Football Sites And Apps – With the NFL season just a week away, fans are pouring over stats, trash talking their friends, and gearing up for the real season: fantasy football. Here are the coolest and most useful places to play fantasy football out there—from the household names like ESPN to a small startup that’s doing fantasy exclusively on your phone.

SimCity for Mac issues causing some gamers frustration – With the SimCity launch fiasco that took place earlier this year still in fresh in the mind of gamers, many have plodded ahead and downloaded the newly launched SimCity from Mac. Not too long after the download became available, however, comments and tweets are appearing from users who are experiencing a variety of issues with the game, among them being the inability to download it at all.

Grand Theft Auto V official trailer brings the drama – There’s just something about a railgun in a video aimed at open-sandbox gameplay that gets the juices flowing in the morning. Today the folks at Rockstar Games have released “The Official Trailer” for Grand Theft Auto V – aka GTA 5. This trailer includes insight on each of the three storyline paths of the main characters of the game: Michael, Franklin, and Trevor.

Halo: Spartan Assault gets DLC, update adds Xbox controller support – Microsoft has released their first DLC for Halo: Spartan Assault with five new levels, new vehicles, and better support for Windows 8 and older Windows Phone devices.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Cold call victim forces telemarketers to pay him by using premium number – A British man fed up with cold calls from telemarketers set up a premium phone number in November 2011 and has made £300 by accepting calls and keeping the annoying marketers on the line as long as possible.

What You Don’t Know About Sunglasses Could Hurt You – Exposing your peepers to the sun could trigger a host of serious health problems, including painful sunburns and cataracts. What’s worse, buying sunglasses can be a complicated, cryptic process (what do those labels mean, anyhow?).

John McAfee is back, still crazy, and teaches us an important life lesson – McAfee is back with another insane video. Keep in mind that this video is not safe for work, so watch and listen to it with care.

How “cell tower dumps” caught the High Country Bandits—and why it matters – Fishing expeditions can pay dividends—but do they need a warrant?

Guess what happened when Backblaze tried using the NSA for data backup – Nobody seriously believes that the NSA would helpfully give you backup if your hard drive failed. But an employee of the online storage company Backblaze asked anyway.

Knowingly texting a driver could land you in court – In a New Jersey case, lawyers argue that someone who texted a driver involved in a crash was “electronically in the car.” An appeals court agrees that those who text drivers could be liable.

Something to think about:

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for

authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place

of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their

households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They

contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties

at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

–       Attributed to Socrates by Plato

Today’s Free Downloads:

Outlook4Gmail 4.0.1 – Outlook4Gmail is a free must-have Outlook add-in providing easy contacts synchronization of your Outlook and Gmail accounts and address books. This add-in uses the maximum correspondence of Outlook and Gmail contact details: Name, Company, Phones, Emails, Addresses, Dates, Persons, Notes, etc. You define the direction of synchronization/update: you can sync or update either the Outlook or the Gmail address book (one-way synchronization) or choose to update both accounts simultaneously (two-way synchronization).

Wifi Password Revealer – WiFi password revealer is a small freeware utility which will show you all your saved WiFi passwords. If you forgot or lost password to your wireless network – this tool is for you. For Windows XP and 2003 Server users. your passwords will be recovered as 64 HEX digits, and not exact password which you have entered. This is NOT a bug. Windows XP automatically converts them into this form, and it can’t be converted back. But you can still use this HEX digits instead of real password in order to connect to your wirelesss network. Administrator rights are required on your PC in order to decrypt stored passwords.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden Leaks $52 Billion Intelligence Budget, Reveals “Offensive Cyber Operations” – National Security Agency leaker and new Russia resident Edward Snowden has leaked a top-secret $52 billion intelligence budget to the Washington Post. The partially redacted budget reveals the successes and shortcomings of the United States’ sprawling intelligence apparatus, as well as the justifications for top-line budget items.

NSA has super secret hacker collective according to newly revealed Snowden docs – A new batch of government documents pilfered by Edward Snowden, who is now living in Russia, were made known by The Washington Post today, one that showed a detailed budget and hinted at encryption decoding efforts by the NSA. A different one, however, had another interesting thing to bring to light: the NSA has a super secret collective of hackers.

French judiciary opens “preliminary investigation” of NSA spying: Two French human rights groups filed a legal complaint last month – The French national prosecutor’s office in Paris has opened a “preliminary investigation” into the National Security Agency’s (NSA) PRISM surveillance program, French media reported on Wednesday. (Don’t forget, France’s own spy agency, the DGSE, likely engages in similar practices.) The inquiry has been underway for over a month, but it’s only now being publicly disclosed through an anonymous judicial source who talked with the Agence France Presse (Google Translate). The investigation began on July 16 to investigate the “illicit collection of personal data” of French citizens.

NSA seeks ‘groundbreaking’ spying powers, new leak reveals – The US government’s spying budget includes funds to invent new technologies “to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit Internet traffic,” leaked documents show.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 29, 2013

Laptops vs. Tablets: Ultimate Showdown – If you’re shopping for a new device, you have a big choice to make. Laptop or tablet, we’ll help you pick.

Smart classroom tools for tech-savvy students – Though your laptop or PC is your school lifeline, it’s not always convenient to bring it to class. For those days, consider bringing more than just a typical spiral-bound notebook and your favorite gel pen. These high-tech notebooks and gadgets—plus one piece of software—will help you stay on top of your study game this semester.

How to: Remote Desktop Access – Our step-by-step guide to Windows Remote Desktop Connection makes it easy to access offsite PCs.

Use RDP Remote Desktop iFreeRDP on your iPad to access a remote PC – RDP Remote Desktop iFreeRDP is a free remote desktop solution that enables secure access to your desktop from anywhere. It supports all operating systems that support terminal services/remote desktop out of the box. With RDP Remote Desktop iFreeRDP, you get full control over Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, and other installed applications.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

In historic vote, New Zealand bans software patents: Patent claims can’t cover computer programs “as such.” – A major new patent bill, passed in a 117-4 vote by New Zealand’s Parliament after five years of debate, has banned software patents. Processes will still be patentable if the computer program is merely a way of implementing a patentable process. But patent claims that cover computer programs “as such” will not be allowed.

China to overtake US in e-commerce in 2013 – Asian giant has grown at 71 percent on average from 2009 to 2012 hitting US$212.4 billion last year, compared to U.S’s growth rate of 13 percent at $228.7 billion for the same period, according to Bain & Co. study.

Get started with shared Facebook albums – Facebook is in the middle of rolling out shared photo albums to users that allow you and your friends to contribute to albums.

Twitter tweaks its site and mobile apps to make conversations easier – IDG News Service – Twitter is updating its site and mobile apps to make it easier for users to carry out conversations on the site and share them with others outside of Twitter. The changes are intended to let users more easily follow along and join in on conversations that are typically carried out on Twitter using the “@ reply” function.

Three free email client apps for Android – Jack Wallen highlights three free email client apps that are more powerful, easier to navigate, or offer more options than Android’s default email client.

Nerd, interrupted: Inside a smartphone addiction treatment center – We often joke about being addicted to our phones, but it’s a problem that actually affects thousands of people worldwide. People addicted to these central accoutrements of the digital age need a dedicated type of rehab therapy and wellness programs to bring them back to reality. Backing away from an obsession with always-on, always-connected gadgets can be as hard as backing away from cigarettes or heroin.

Automattic Adds New Media Explorer Tool For Quick Twitter, YouTube Embeds In – Automattic, the parent company of the popular publishing platform, has released a new Media Explorer tool so users can add tweets and YouTube videos to their posts straight from the post editor. The tool is immediately available for and VIP users, and is coming soon to self-hosted WordPress blogs through Jetpack.

Fact sheet: LibreOffice 4.1 – Here is a quick fact sheet about the changes and improvements you can see in LibreOffice 4.1. LibreOffice is the flagship office suite from the open source community. It offers the best work flow between MS Office and any other office suite on the market. With the latest releases, LibreOffice has made even more strides to bridge the gap between business users and open source. And with the nightmare of licensing that is become of MS Office 2013, users are starting to seriously look for alternatives.

Help migrate users from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice 4.1 – For small businesses, a logical alternative to Office 2013 is LibreOffice 4.1. After just a few short years, LibreOffice has grown to be one of the finest locally installed office suites available. Not only will it save your company budget dollars, it will save users the headache of having to learn yet another iteration of the Microsoft Office interface. Read these migration tips.

6 running apps for people who don’t even like to walk – My friends who run look so much better in their jeans than I do. They enter races—real races, not like the 5K I did last year with zero training just because I wanted a medal. They run half marathons and full marathons, and when they talk about the runner’s high they get, or conversely, how crappy they feel when they can’t run for whatever reason, I get envious. I want to run, too.

Three handy (but often-overlooked) Google Chrome features – We are all of us creatures of habit, and those habits can easily extend to our Web browsers, where we’re so focused on our usual daily routines, we often overlook certain capabilities that can save us time or improve our productivity. In Google Chrome, for example, there are three features so neatly tucked away that I suspect many users have never noticed them.


Spear phishing led to DNS attack against the New York Times, others – The cyberattack that resulted in and some other high-profile websites being inaccessible to a large number of users Tuesday started with a targeted phishing attack against a reseller for Melbourne IT, an Australian domain registrar and IT services company.

FAQs about hacks: Everything you need to know about the Syrian Electronic Army – Should you be worried about the Syrian Electronic Army? Is there a chance you and I could get caught in the crossfire, the way Lulzsec leaked so many passwords a few summers back? Read on to learn everything you need to know about the Syrian Electronic Army.

Researcher: Snapchat names, aliases, phone numbers vulnerable – Australian researchers claim data can be discovered and harvested via the Snapchat Android and iOS API even if an account is private.

Unpatched Mac bug gives attackers “super user” status by going back in time – Researchers have made it easier to exploit a five-month-old security flaw that allows penetration testers and less-ethical hackers to gain nearly unfettered “root” access to Macs over which they already have limited control.

Hack of New York Times holds a lesson for all businesses – Your network is only as secure as the weakest point that has access to it. For the Washington Post it was a third-party advertising platform. For the New York Times it was a weakness at the Web hosting provider. Where is your weak link?

Company News:

Vodafone and O2 switch on UK 4G networks – Londoners can take their pick of three LTE networks from today, with all 4G operators pledging to extend coverage in the near future.

Facebook To Capture 15.8% Of Global Mobile Ad Revenue This Year, Predicts eMarketer, Up From Just 5.35% In 2012 – It’s no secret that Facebook has accelerated its mobile ad business in recent quarters. This mobile ad monetization push is resulting in “dramatic gains” in worldwide mobile ad market share, according to estimates put out today by researchers at eMarketer.

Hugo Barra is leaving Google, will join Chinese handset maker Xiaomi – Google‘s Vice President of Product Management Hugo Barra is leaving Google, and sources appeared claiming that he’ll be taking up employment with Chinese phone maker Xiaomi. Shortly after the news surfaced, Google confirmed that the executive is parting ways and confirmation has appeared on Weibo about the job he has lined up.

E-Readers Are Supposed to Be Dying, but Kobo Keeps Making Fancier Ones – The conventional wisdom about e-readers is that they are slowly getting pushed to the bargain bin, doomed to a life of obscurity at the hands of thinner, lighter and cheaper tablets. Just don’t tell that to Kobo, which continues to push the boundaries on the lowly e-reader. The company has just announced the Kobo Aura, a $150 e-reader with some fancy technologies for reading digital books.

Samsung and LG considering an anti-theft “kill-switch” on future devices – This is said to be addressing lost and stolen devices and will apply to both tablets and smartphones. This is something we have seen Samsung talk about in the past, however this latest Wall Street Journal report also includes LG. While we already have similar tracking services available, this one looks like it will go a bit deeper.

T-Mobile sues AT&T’s Aio Wireless over use of the color magenta – The carrier went after AT&T last month over its Next program, lambasting the program and following it up with some critical advertisements. Now T-Mobile is going at the company again, this time by way of a lawsuit against its subsidiary Aio Wireless.

iOS 7 forced VMware to rebuild, but company doubles down on Android – VMware’s quest to virtualize the smartphone is gaining steam on Android, with some premium devices now getting access to the company’s dual-persona technology.

Games and Entertainment:

Driving Game Makes You Respond to Text Messages While You’re Racing – The premise of the game is simple: You zip around a race course and while you’re driving, you’re tasked with responding to asinine text messages. The challenge, of course, is that responding to the text messages requires taking your eyes off the road. You can play the game yourself by navigating over to Link’s site and either downloading it or playing it inside your web browser. It’s not a game that should be played in real life.

Disney may offer final Clone Wars episodes exclusively on Apple TV – Disney is said to be working on Star Wars app for the Apple TV. The details are still firmly in the rumor category at the moment, however it is looking like the final episodes of the Clone Wars television series will be amongst the first content available on the app. This is said to be coming during the upcoming holiday season and beyond that, additional content is expected.

Logitech’s G602 gaming mouse has 1,440 hour battery life – If you are in the market for a new gaming mouse, chances are there’s a few prerequisite features you are looking for. Top of the list will be a very fast optical sensor for precision, then there’s the ability to program the buttons as well as having more buttons available to use. And then there’s battery life.

3DGo streams 3D movies you might actually want to watch – The service, which is currently available only on Vizio 3DTVs, carries about 50 movies from the likes of Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Paramount, and National Geographic. Current titles include Monsters, Inc., Captain America: The First Avenger, Cars 2, Wreck-It Ralph, Tron: Legacy, Thor, the Toy Story trilogy, and even Top Gun (yes, that Top Gun). Iron Man 3 will soon join that list.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Surgeon live-streams knee repair with Google Glass – A Google Glass-wearing surgeon transmits video of major knee surgery to colleagues and students. It’s a first-of-its-kind moment in the US and a big step for wearable tech.

Geek Answers: Why does NASA use so much gold foil? – Why doesn’t the cash-strapped agency use something less opulent than gold? Wouldn’t aluminum foil get the job done?

Honda tech warns drivers of pedestrian presence – Honda demonstrated a new system to prevent cars from hitting pedestrians today. A communication link between a car and a pedestrian’s smartphone warns the driver of an impending collision.

Eight excellent car technologies for safer driving – If you’re ready to trade in your well-worn 1999 model year ride, get ready for a whole new world of driving. New cars come with a wide array of technologies that improve safety, convenience, and your driving comfort.

Gamification: Using play to motivate employees and engage customers – Gamification is a long, awkward word, and some industry experts deride it as somewhat deceiving and inaccurate. But the concept it describes is simple—to make nongame activities more fun and engaging, you make them more like games. That idea can mean a lot of different things in practice, but here are a few of the most basic characteristics of gamification in action:

Something to think about:

The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.”

–     Lord Acton

Today’s Free Downloads:

Google Keyboard for Android – Google Keyboard makes text input smart and easy. Glide through letters with Gesture Typing – just lift to finish a word, no spacebar required. Compose notes on-the-go with Voice Typing. With amazing word recognition and next-word prediction, Google Keyboard helps you type faster and more accurately on all your Android devices.

Hotspot Shield 3.13 – Hotspot Shield creates a virtual private network (VPN) between your laptop and the wireless router. This impenetrable tunnel prevents snoopers and hackers from viewing your email, instant messages, credit card information or anything else you send over a wireless network. Which means you remain anonymous and protect your privacy. Hotspot Shield security software is free to download, employs the latest VPN technology, and is easy to install and use.

Undelete Navigator – Undelete Navigator allows you to find and undelete your accidentally lost or intentionally deleted files from all your internal and external hard disks, USB flash sticks and SD memory cards.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Usage for Tor doubles in wake of secure email shutdowns, arrival of the PirateBrowser – The Tor anonymity network is enjoying a massive uptick in popularity after two significant privacy-minded events took place earlier this month. By August 18, the number of users accessing the Tor network started creeping up, and it has only climbed higher and higher (and higher) since. Tor now regularly sees more than twice as many daily users as it did before the email shutdowns and the PirateBrowser’s release.

Eric Holder Pressed On DEA, NSA – Eight Democratic U.S. senators and congressmen have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to answer questions about a Reuters report that the National Security Agency supplies the Drug Enforcement Administration with intelligence information used to make non-terrorism cases against American citizens.

Why the NSA PRISM program should terrify America – When the government says it is not reading the content of your emails and other digital communications, just collecting the “metadata,” rather than being reassured, you should be alarmed. Let’s see how this works.

NSA employees spied on their lovers using eavesdropping programme – Staff working at America’s National Security Agency – the eavesdropping unit that was revealed to have spied on millions of people – have used the technology to spy on their lovers.

U.S. tech sector feels pain from NSA PRISM revelations – A separate report this month by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, or ITIF, a Washington think tank, said US cloud providers stand to lose $22 billion to $35 billion over the next three years due to revelations about the so-called PRISM program.

The secret war – Infiltration. Sabotage. Mayhem. For years, four-star general Keith Alexander has been building a secret army capable of launching devastating cyberattacks. Now it’s ready to unleash hell.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 28, 2013

Stop data-hogging Android apps – Ready to find out which app is eating all of your data each time it’s running? NetLive knows exactly how much data your other apps are using right now.

Five Apps: Windows 7 Gadgets that gather system information – For many users, having instant, up-to-date, information about a system means an efficient environment. Windows 7 Desktop Gadgets could be the answer.

Compared: iWork for iCloud, Google Docs and Microsoft Office Web Apps – There are alternatives to Microsoft Office that provide many of the most commonly used features of Word, Excel and PowerPoint at a much better price—free. And unlike older Office alternatives, such as OpenOffice, the new online office suites from Apple, Google and Microsoft, too, will work on your Android and iOS devices, as well. Here’s how the big three stack up.

Control desktop apps with the touch screen of your iPad – Parallels Access is a must-have for iPad owners that need to control apps on their desktop PC. Parallels Access lets you connect with both Windows and Mac computers from your iPad, and even gives you an iPad-like experience for launching and using regular desktop computer apps.

US leads the world in government requests of Facebook user data – American authorities—presumably ranging across local, state, and federal levels—requested information on “20,000 to 21,000” individual accounts. Facebook handed over “some data” in 79 percent of those cases. Curiously, the US is the only country where Facebook expresses this data as a range rather than as a specific number.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

School district hires company to follow kids’ Facebook, Twitter – What lazy, neurotic employer wouldn’t love to know if a potential hire was a school bully a few years ago? Might the employer be able to contact the school district and demand a record of all social media activity that took place in a potential employee’s youth? When kids grow up, there will be parts of their lives they want to erase. Yet here will be records that keep that past alive. The twin-pronged fork of surveillance is currently being examined for the potential of its worth.

Nexus 4 8GB and 16GB prices slashed – Google has just slashed the rate of its 8GB and 16GB Nexus 4 models in the Play Store by $100, bringing the price down to $199. Such follows closely on the heels of Nexus 5 speculation, not the least of which was a rumor earlier this month that Google would be keeping the same pricing structure for the next-generation Nexus, placing it at $299.

Free help desk software to keep your SMB running smoothly – These four tools can help small or medium size businesses manage their help desks and track bugs.

How your small business can mine big data – Surprisingly affordable (or free) services can analyze customer data for insight and profit.

Google releases iOS app to configure Chromecast devices – People buying the $35 Web-to-TV streaming-video devices now can set them up with an iOS app, not just a PC with a Web browser.

MedicalKeyring: Your medical data on a fingerprint thumbdrive – This keyring, billed as having the world’s smallest biometric fingerprint reader, shows your emergency medical info at the touch of a button.

The cloud just keeps growing–Microsoft bumps SkyDrive Pro to 25GB – Microsoft announced an increase in space Tuesday for users of its business-oriented cloud storage service SkyDrive Pro (part of the Office 365 suite). Microsoft bumped its existing 7GB offering up to a 25GB default for all paying customers—freeloaders remain capped at 7GB.

YouTube to shelve video responses due to extremely low click-through rate – If you can’t remember that last time you watched a YouTube video response, you’re not the only one. As it turns out, only four out of every one million users who see a video response actually click on it, something that works out to a click-through rate of 0.0004%. Because of this, YouTube has announced that the feature will go away next month.


Malicious Chrome extensions on the rise – Kaspersky Lab has observed in increase in the use of malicious Chrome extensions to compromise users. The latest pose as a Facebook video.

The lunacy of trying to avoid NSA spying by moving e-mail and cloud out of the US – Some people are to much in a panic about the NSA spying on them that they’re going to move their e-mail and cloud services out of the US entirely to “safer” foreign companies.

Syrian Electronic Army Apparently Hacks DNS Records Of Twitter, NYT Through Registrar Melbourne IT – The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for hacking the domain name servers of two of Twitter’s sites, and a third appears to have been redirected to servers hosted by the SEA. In addition, attacks have been made on The New York Times and Huffington Post UK name servers.

Hackers had Melbourne IT reseller credentials to attack NYT, Twitter – No sophisticated attack was required to attack The New York Times and Twitter, as hackers already had valid credentials to allow them to change DNS entries.

Twitter: No data breach from hack – The Syrian Electronic Army reportedly took over the site and prevented users from seeing images, but Twitter says no personal information was affected.

iOS and Android weaknesses allow stealthy pilfering of website credentials – Both OSes fail to ensure that browser cookies, document files, and other sensitive content from one Internet domain are off-limits to scripts controlled by a second address without explicit permission, according to a just-published academic paper from scientists at Microsoft Research and Indiana University. The so-called same-origin policy is a fundamental security mechanism enforced by desktop browsers, but the protection is woefully missing from many iOS and Android apps.

Researchers reverse-engineer the Dropbox client: What it means – There were doubts about being able to reverse engineer heavily-obfuscated applications written in Python. Two researchers have removed all doubt by reverse engineering the immensely popular Dropbox client.

Cybercrime service automates creation of fake ID verification documents – A new Web-based service for cybercriminals automates the creation of fake scanned documents that can help fraudsters bypass the identity-verification processes used by some banks, e-commerce businesses, and other online services providers, according to researchers from Russian cybercrime investigations firm Group-IB.

Company News:

Yahoo’s Redesign Isn’t Over Yet, More Sites & Ad Formats To Come – Yahoo rolled out a major redesign to several of its web properties today – a move that’s part of a project apparently code-named “Grand Slam.” At least that’s how it was recently described in a Vogue profile of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, which said Grand Slam is “an effort to bring a more coherent look and identity to Yahoo’s pages.”

BlackBerry considers spinning off Messenger as separate business – The Journal reports that the subsidiary, which would be named BBM Inc., would move to offer additional services atop the messaging platform, potentially including a Twitter-like service called BBM Channels and a desktop client.

Huawei plans 5G network launch by 2020, 100 times faster than 4G – Huawei intends to introduce commercial 5G networks by 2020, a service touted as “100 times faster” than current fourth generation networks.

Baidu reportedly in talks to develop smart TVs – Chinese search giant said to be in discussions with local manufacturer Huan Technology on developing a set-top box or chip for use in smart TVs, which could take on Alibaba Group’s move into the Internet TV space in July.

Games and Entertainment:

Bethesda “pushing” against Xbox Live Gold fee for Elder Scrolls Online – So far, Bethesda Softworks (and parent company Zenimax Media) has bucked industry trends by planning a $15 per month subscription for its upcoming The Elder Scrolls Online, adding a bit of insult to injury by including a real-money shop for nonessential items. Now the company says it’s trying to get Microsoft to agree to waive the additional requirement of an Xbox Live Gold subscription for Xbox One players, though without much success so far.

Microsoft claims Killer Instinct is the world’s most generous game demo – Last week Microsoft revealed exactly how it intends to offer fighting game Killer Instinct to gamers on Xbox One launch day. It’s basically a free game in limited form, but scales up to a full price and fully featured title if you are willing to pay.

Disney Infinity Review: Finally, a game with all the wit, charm, and crass commercialization of a Disney movie – Disney Infinity is best described as Disney Interactive’s attempt at imitating Activision’s hugely successful Skylanders games. Like Skylanders, Infinity requires players to place RFID-tagged physical objects—figures, play sets, or power discs—onto the plastic “Infinity Base” sensor, a console accessory that imports the data on the toy and allows them to be played in-game.

Blackbar is a Fascinating Sci-Fi Word Puzzle for iPhone and iPad – Fans of dystopian science fiction tales will want to sit up and take note of a new game on iOS. Blackbar is an intricate and engrossing word game where you must decipher the letters sent to you by an old friend after they have been censored by the devious Department of Communication. If that sounds uninteresting, rest assured that it’s actually quite a challenge.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Researchers create first ever human-to-human interface, use it to play a game – Researchers at the University of Washington have achieved something that, as far as they know, is the first ever functioning human-to-human brain interface that doesn’t involve picking around inside the participants’ skulls. Using a system to transmit a brain signal via the Internet, one participant was able to control the hand of the other.

5 Ways Products Find You Online With Shopping Personalization – Searching for products you’ll love is becoming less important. They’re starting to come to you thanks to targeted advertising.

Twerk, Selfie, Bitcoin, Others Added To Oxford Dictionary As Silicon Valley, Middle Schoolers Push English Language Forward – The new words are an odd mix of techie and tween-y. Here are some of the words that are being added.

Infants remember speech heard in the womb – Human fetuses begin to hear sounds that reach them from outside the womb at about 27 weeks. But it wasn’t clear whether fetuses can learn from these sounds in ways that shape speech perception and development during infancy. Now it appears they can.

Astronomers create 3D fly-through of Hubble Ultra Deep Field image – The Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) is one of the most incredible images ever captured by the space telescope. It contains roughly 10,000 galaxies spotted in a small, seemingly empty patch of sky. A new animation from NASA takes the HUDF to the next level by using it as the basis for an animated fly-through of the distant universe.

Assessing Zuckerberg’s Idea That Facebook Could Help Citizens Re-Make Their Government – Mark Zuckerberg has a grand vision that Facebook will help citizens in developing countries decide their own governments. It’s a lofty and partially attainable goal. While Egypt probably won’t let citizens vote for their next president with a Like, it is theoretically possible to use Facebook to crowdsource expertise.

Something to think about:

The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.”

–    Horace Walpole

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ghostery 5.0.3 – Ghostery sees the “invisible” web, detecting trackers, web bugs, pixels, and beacons placed on web pages by Facebook, Google Analytics, and over 1,000 other ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers – all companies interested in your activity. After showing you who operates behind the scenes, Ghostery also gives you the opportunity to learn more about each company it identifies, including links to their privacy policy and opt-out options. Ghostery allows you to block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and even block images and iframes.

PicPick 3.2.7 – PicPick is user friendly and full of features for creating your image, suitable for software developers, graphic designers and home user. It is an all-in-one program that provides full-featured screen capture tool, intuitive image editor, color picker, color palette, pixel ruler, protractor, crosshair and even whiteboard. It has not only everything what you need, but it loads fast, sits quietly in the system tray until needed. This software is provided as freeware for only personal use. In this case, you are granted the right to use this program free of charge. Otherwise, you need to pay for a license for commercial use.

nLite – Have you ever wanted to remove Windows components like Media Player, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, MSN Explorer, Messenger… How about not even to install them with Windows? nLite is a tool for pre-installation Windows configuration and component removal at your choice. Optional bootable image ready for burning on media or testing in virtual machines.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

In ACLU lawsuit, scientist demolishes NSA’s “It’s just metadata” excuse – Yesterday, the ACLU filed a declaration by Princeton Computer Science Prof. Edward Felten to support its quest for a preliminary injunction in that lawsuit. Felten’s declaration is meant to convince a judge to grant a preliminary injunction stopping or limiting NSA activity while the constitutionality of it can be judged. Previous court challenges to suspected government spying programs haven’t fared well. But now the ACLU has public pressure on its side, and the government can’t claim that secrecy must shut down the court proceeding. Everything has been moved into the sphere of public debate whether the government likes it or not. The judge has already rejected an attempt to delay this case. Oral arguments on the preliminary injunction are scheduled for November 1.

US policies influence tech firms standing in Asia – Actions of U.S. government impact the way Asian countries look at U.S. technology companies like VMware, making it tough for them to do business in these fast-growing markets, says CEO Pat Gelsinger.

The Real, Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda – The scariest explanation of all? That the NSA and GCHQ are just showing they don’t want to be messed with. The incident prompted a major outcry in the U.K. The U.K.’s Terrorist Act has always been controversial, and this clear misuse — it was intended to give authorities the right to detain and question suspected terrorists — is prompting new calls for its review.

How Snowden did it – When Edward Snowden stole the crown jewels of the National Security Agency, he didn’t need to use any sophisticated devices or software or go around any computer firewall. All he needed, said multiple intelligence community sources, was a few thumb drives and the willingness to exploit a gaping hole in an antiquated security system to rummage at will through the NSA’s servers and take 20,000 documents without leaving a trace. “It’s 2013 and the NSA is stuck in 2003 technology,” said an intelligence official.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 27, 2013

How to delete your Web accounts with – Some Web sites make it difficult to figure out how to delete your accounts. can save you time by providing direct links to the cancellation pages of numerous Internet sites.

Microsoft will craft XP patches after April ’14, but not for you – Just because Microsoft doesn’t plan on giving Windows XP patches to the public after April 8, 2014, doesn’t mean it’s going to stop making those patches. In fact, Microsoft will be creating security updates for Windows XP for months — years, even — after it halts their delivery to the general public.

Anonymous Document Sharing Site Pastebin Surpasses 1 Million Members, Keeps Growing – The service allowed users to log in using social media tools and control the pastes they uploaded to the site. Members can also edit and delete pieces of information they post to the site. Users can still paste items anonymously.

10 open-source alternatives for small business software – The open-source community offers an array of programs that deliver professional-grade features without the big-business price tag. If you replace your current commercial software products with these open-source equivalents, you can save nearly $2,000 per user.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Facebook prompts users to create shared photo albums – Up to 50 Facebookers can now collaborate on one single photo album — from a wedding, vacation, or other event — with a new feature called “Shared Albums.”

8 Free World-Class College Courses on YouTube – A wealth of information is at your fingertips if you just know where to look; this includes college courses from some of the country’s most esteemed universities

The best Windows 8 Start menu programs – Like a lot of people, I have a very low opinion of Windows 8’s user interface. And one of the things I like least about it is the lack of a Start menu. That’s hardly a unique opinion. Luckily, there are plenty of third-party Start Menu programs. Here are two of the best–with very different approaches.

MeCam launches wearable HD pin-style camera – The camera is small enough to fit in one’s palm and is said to weigh less than a quarter pound. There’s an on board microphone, which has an audio recording range of 10 feet from the camera. The unit records to a microSD card, and is able to support capacities up to 16GB. Power comes from a Lithium Ion battery said to have a run time of 80 minutes, while both charging and data transfer is achieved with a standard USB cable. The camera is available now from MeCam for $49 USD.

Instagram Taps Into Phone’s Sensors for Photo Straighten Feature – Instagram on Monday provided some detail on how its new straighten tool works within Instagram 4.1.

Uncover the note-taking power of Google Keep – If you’re a power tablet users, you know that having the right tool to do the job is tantamount to successful mobile work. Sometimes, however, the right tool might be a bit deceiving. Such is the case with Google Keep. This particular Google application allows you to create and save quick text notes, audio notes, and pictures.

Present wirelessly with Chromecast in your conference room – Google’s $35 Chromecast may be the simplest, least expensive way to present wirelessly from your laptop browser.

Google blocks Chromecast app that streams local media files – You can stream a lot of content to a Chromecast dongle, but one thing you can’t do is stream your personal files from an Android device—and according to one developer, Google’s actively working to keep it that way.

Three handy (but often-overlooked) Google Chrome features – In Google Chrome, for example, there are three features so neatly tucked away that I suspect many users have never noticed them.

Apple’s iPhone Trade-in Program Is Already Being Piloted, Here’s How It Works – Apple is about to introduce an iPhone trade-in program that will allow users to walk into a Retail store and trade up from an old model to a new one. We’ve heard some interesting details about the way that the program will work, and indeed, is working right now in some pilot Apple Stores.


Mobile Threat Monday: Nasty Adware And A Master Key Mystery – This week, we look at several apps that push ads to your phone in undesirable ways and a true-blue Android “master key” exploit found in the wild.

Public Intelligence releases Android threat warning from Homeland Security and the FBI – This report shows that because Android 2.3 Gingerbread it still a widespread operating system, Google’s own mobile system is a threat to citizens on a level that deserves attention. That’s Android 2.3.3 through 2.3.7, released in 2011, and the government suggests that a change needs to be made.

Researchers modify GSM cell phones to function as cellular blocking device – A Technical University of Berlin telecommunications security research group has revealed that it was able to block local cell phones from receiving calls and text messages using a software modification on a GSM phone. As such, this method can be used as a telecommunications hack that prevents a specific network area from properly sending communication on to handsets.

Google Palestine Hacked And Defaced Through A Domain Registry Attack – Google’s primary search domain for Palestine has seemingly been hacked, with the standard Google search interface for the region being replaced by a political message from its hackers.

Turbo-charged cracking comes to long passwords – For the first time, the freely available password cracker ocl-Hashcat-plus is able to tackle passcodes with as many as 55 characters. It’s an improvement that comes as more and more people are relying on long passcodes and phrases to protect their website accounts and other online assets.

Researchers modify GSM cell phones to function as cellular blocking device – A Technical University of Berlin telecommunications security research group has revealed that it was able to block local cell phones from receiving calls and text messages using a software modification on a GSM phone. As such, this method can be used as a telecommunications hack that prevents a specific network area from properly sending communication on to handsets.

Company News:

AdBlock launches crowdfunding campaign to create ads about blocking ads – Prepare to have your mind blown: This weekend, the creator of the popular AdBlock software—which kills the ads you’d normally see while trawling the Web—launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for ads encouraging people to use AdBlock and block Internet ads.

Android Developers Can Now Use Google’s Play Store To Distribute Their Free Apps In Iran – Google today announced that Android developers can now make their free apps available in Iran, one of the few countries where app downloads through Google’s store were completely unavailable until now. Paid apps and apps that use in-app billing, Google notes, will still remain unavailable in Iran for the time being.

Worth $100B, Facebook Has Recovered $58B In Market Cap Since Last September – Today Facebook ended normal trading with a market valuation of $100.6 billion, capping a long return to form after a botched IPO and mobile concerns led investors to unload the shares in the company in its first year as a public entity. The company has recovered $58 billion in market capitalization since last fall, more than doubling in value since its 52-week low.

Games and Entertainment:

Video games do not make vulnerable teens more violent – Do violent video games such as ‘Mortal Kombat,’ ‘Halo’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ trigger teenagers with symptoms of depression or attention deficit disorder to become aggressive bullies or delinquents? On the contrary, the researchers found that the playing of such games actually had a very slight calming effect on youths with attention deficit symptoms and helped to reduce their aggressive and bullying behavior.

Xbox One will have a high-performance custom chip: The chip was designed by Microsoft and AMD – The high-performance, low-power chip has specialized processors beyond the CPU and GPU to handle tasks such as audio processing, video decode and encode and other small game characteristics. The system has 5 billion transistors, and uses an eight-core AMD CPU code-named Jaguar, which is also being used in the Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4.

Grand Theft Auto V special edition content detailed – Rockstar loves to tease its fans, and it’s been doing a lot of that recently with Grand Theft Auto V. The game is planned for release next month, but that isn’t stopping Rockstar from slowly providing us with more and more details on the upcoming game. This time around, it’s more screenshots and details from the special editions of the game.

Oculus Rift used to simulate skydiving while suspended from a tree – The brain is used to certain rules — it assumes the visual data being fed into it is actually indicative of the real world. That’s why a video game or other immersive experience can produce the sensation of falling, or induce motion sickness in some people. YouTuber Dan Borenstein has taken things to the next level with an Oculus Rift, a skydiving demo game, and a tree.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Assange’s brilliant mullet-wearing, classic-miming video – In the run-up to Australia’s elections, the WikiLeaks founder sings an ’80s classic on a marvelously demented “Game of Thrones” satirical video.

Owlet, A Bootie That Tells You How Your Baby Is Breathing, Hits The Crowdfunding Trail – The lives of new parents are fraught with stress but now the weight of knowing whether or not your wee one is breathing can be lifted. Owlet is a small bootie that the baby wears while sleeping. It signals heart rate and respiration and you can check in on the little shaver via a mobile device

When It Comes to Phones, How Big Is Too Big? – Samsung rolled out its Galaxy Mega phablet in American markets last week but I’m skeptical as to whether consumers will latch onto the new form factor.

NORAD, Russia Practice Intercepting Hijacked Airliners – U.S. and Russian forces began a joint exercise Monday over the Bering Sea despite the raised tensions with U.S. naval forces moving into position to potentially fire cruise missiles into Syria. The exercise will simulate the response to a hijacked airliner. It’s the third iteration of the exercise named Vigilant Eagle run Aug. 26–30 by North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Russian Federation Air Force. (suggested by Michael F.)

Gas stations in the sky: 90 years of aerial refueling – In 1923, Army aviators began running a fuel hose from one biplane to another and setting endurance records. Today, B-2 bombers can fly from Missouri to Korea and back, nonstop.

Should You Keep Your Mental Illness a Secret at Work? – It’s bad enough that most health insurance companies will gladly discriminate against you for having a pre-existing mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But what about other people, like your coworkers? Will they still treat you the same if they knew you had a mental illness? Depending on where you worked, you might find the answer surprising, even in the year 2013.

Something to think about:

Surveillance And The State – It is not the role of politicians or civil servants to determine the limits of public discussion. Nor should the debate be circumscribed by attempting to criminalise the act of journalism − without which, in this instance, there could be no debate. Citizens of free countries are entitled to protect their privacy against the state. The state has a duty to protect free speech as well as security.

Today’s Free Downloads:

MyPhoneExplorer 1.8.5 – Connect your phone via cable, bluetooth or infrared and you’ll be surprised how easy and efficient you can manage your phone with this compact software.

Wise Program Uninstaller 1.53.72 – Wise Program Uninstaller helps you uninstall your unwanted programs or forcibly uninstall the program you can’t uninstall by Windows or other programs. Moreover, it also can remove the residual entries which may drive you mad.

CCleaner Portable – CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA: fear of a black van – Most of us are good citizens. And yet. What if the government is listening in, or watching, or scanning, and some algorithm triggers an investigation and some quota-happy g-man decides to make one of us a pet project?

German politician: Stop US trade talks until NSA surveillance is disclosed – A German political opposition leader has called for a complete halt to the ongoing European Union-United States trade negotiations, further indicating a breakdown between the two longstanding allies over spy-related issues.

New Zealand appears to have used NSA spy network to target Kim Dotcom – A new examination of previously published affidavits from the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)—the New Zealand equivalent of the National Security Agency (NSA)—appears to suggest that the GCSB used the “Five Eyes” international surveillance network to capture the communications of Kim Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload.

Justice Department slip names Google in data demands case – A recent court filing by the Justice Department redacts Google’s name in all instances but one, finally making official what had been an open secret.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 26, 2013

The Essentials: Best free Windows apps for students – Make sure your PC is equipped with the best of the best to tackle your classes — all without spending a dime.

Facebook hoaxes shared by the scared – Dire warnings and posts on privacy and security regularly appear in our Facebook feed, shared by people that believe they are true. Here is a round up of the hoaxes that are shared the most. They are all fake.

10 cool tools for heading back to school – Looking for back-to-school tech? From advanced note-taking apps to interactive textbooks to the perfect high-tech desk lamp, these items will help college students hit the ground running.

Google Glass Patent to Watch What You Watch, Read Your Emotions – A patent filed earlier this month by Google involves analyzing what you look at and even trying to guess your emotional response all in the name of advertising.

Fake social network PRSM demonstrates we’re willing to share everything anyway – A spoof social network jokes to share absolutely everything (and then some), but then again, how much are you sharing with the likes of Google and Apple already?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Saving YouTube videos for offline viewing – Watching a YouTube video typically requires an Internet connection, but with a little preparation the videos can be saved for later offline viewing.

Five free productivity apps for your Android smartphone – With this collection of applications at the ready, you should be able to get your work done on-the-go without dropping a single penny on software. Does this sound too good to be true? Let’s take a look and find out.

6 awesome new Android apps you should check out – Google Play is no longer a wasteland of mediocre apps and games. No, there’s plenty of awesome stuff coming out all the time — everything from system utilities to racing games is getting some love on Android. There’s so much stuff, it can be hard to keep track of what’s new. So here are the best new Android apps you can find.

Resurrect your old PC as a public kiosk for fun and profit – Repurposing an old desktop system as a public-access PC for the lobby of your business or local school is a great way to put neglected hardware to use. Fortunately, with the right software, setting up a secure public PC is a cinch. Depending on what you want to offer in the kiosk, you may even be able to rely on Windows’ built-in features instead of installing extra software. The trick is to figure out who will be using your public PC and what they’ll be using it for.

Windows 8.1 is ready, gets released to manufacturers – Word is Microsoft has released Windows 8.1 to manufacturing. There’s still no indication that developers or users are going to get the gold bits before October 18.

Chrome, Firefox edge IE in browser reliability test – Recent versions of Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox are measurably less prone to crashes and errors than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10, a new analysis by applications testing firm Sauce Labs has found.

Wean Yourself Off Facebook with Shock Therapy and Harassing Phone Calls – Two MIT students were having trouble finishing their dissertations because of Facebook. Time for some high-tech weaning.


Don’t let paranoia over the NSA and TPM weaken your security – Conspiracy theorists are screaming that the NSA and Microsoft are in cahoots to insert a backdoor into all your hardware.

Your perilous future on Windows XP – Things are even worse than you’ve heard. Expect a flood of new vulnerabilities and no help.

Mobile users rely on simple security methods, report says – Nearly 80 percent of smartphone and tablet users choose simple pass codes to protect their devices from unauthorized use, according to an analysis released recently by a maker of mobile device management solutions.

Download me II—Removing the remnants of the Web’s most dangerous search terms – Who knew that “free” could lead to a PUP? (Sadly, not the cute and cuddly kind.) For instance, a search for “free music downloads” (the worst search query from round one) left my desktop littered with them. From my download notes and desktop count, I went from three to 19 programs while adding six Firefox plugins and 12 extensions that made my browser a cluttered array of toolbars and icons. My computer was dogged with PUPs—point proven. Now this was my mess to clean up. Could I do anything to fix my computer, and was it even worth it?

Company News:

Microsoft: Google’s corrupting your kids at school – Oh, those terrible people at Google. In the latest “Scroogled” ad, Redmond says Google is peddling vitamin supplements to kids. And that’s not all.

Apple quietly launches iWork for iCloud public beta – Anyone with an iCloud account can try the Web-based apps that are free for now

US Postal Service explores entering the cloud business – Can the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) find a new future running a cloud-based authentication service for the government? The USPS intends to try and do just that under a three-year $15.12 million contract awarded to SecureKey Technologies last week for some foundation technology to build a cloud-based authentication exchange.

Uber To Purchase 2,500 Driverless Cars From Google – Local transportation and delivery giant Uber announced its biggest bet on autonomous vehicles yet, saying it would purchase 2,500 driverless cars from Google. In addition, the two companies have agreed to a deal in which Uber will share data from its local transportation services with Google, which will use it to further improve its own autonomous car-routing algorithms

Games and Entertainment:

The Elder Scrolls Online: Boldly Going Where Other MMOs Have Failed Before – Has Bethesda lost its mind? TIME Tech’s Matt Peckham and Jared Newman debate the company’s upcoming MMO, which costs a one-time fee of $60 and a recurring fee of $15 per month.

The game in the map (pictures) – Artist Lisa Hoffman builds a mysterious puzzle game directly into the official Burning Man map. Players are encouraged to team up with others to solve the clues and learn about the Cult of the Hat.

Battlefield 4 multiplayer will have dynamic battlefields Dice calls Levolution – EA and Dice are trying to infuse something new into Battlefield 4 in the form of a new layer of dynamically changing play areas. It’s being called Levolution, and while the name may sound ridiculous, the features it introduces promise to offer something new to the gameplay.

PlayStation 4 will win 2013 sales, not the Xbox One – Are you ready for a battle? Starting this November, the video game industry will be headlined by two major competitors: the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One. And both devices, which promise enhanced graphics and outstanding game libraries, are looking to win this year’s 2013 sales competition.

Off Topic (Sort of):

California burning: The view from outer space (pictures) – It’s been another hot summer for firefighters in the Golden State with a series of huge blazes.

Top 10 Steve Ballmer quotes: ‘%#&@!!’ and so much more – As he prepares to make his transition from top dog at Microsoft, we thought it would be a good time to survey some of the most memorable Ballmerisms of past years, and see how they worked out in practice. Some are prescient, others scary – and in some cases he’s flat out wrong.

Forget Your Phone – This video made the rounds yesterday, tugging at heartstrings and giving us all in the Era Of Communication a bit of a kick in the buttocks. It shows a woman who forgot her phone. The premise is hokey at best, but it still tells us something about ourselves these past few years. Our world is endlessly mediated through lenses and screens. They used to tell us we’d get cancer if we sat too close to the TV. Now we have TVs in our hands at all times. Where is that nagging voice now to tell us when enough is enough?

Why Steve Ballmer Failed Microsoft shares soared on the news that its lacklustre boss will soon be leaving. “Ballmer is roughly the tech industry’s equivalent of Mikhail Gorbachev. When he took control Microsoft was one of the most powerful and feared companies in the world. As he leaves, it’s a sprawling shadow.” He alienated employees, missed every trend, came late to every innovation. Microsoft needs a successor who is his opposite in every way

Zuckerberg’s Internet sharing push draws doubts, praise – After Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a coalition with several other major tech companies to bring the Internet to areas of the globe that remain disconnected, the tech world reacted with a mix of criticism, mockery, doubt, and praise.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Starting And Running Your Business – This is going be a bullet FAQ on starting a business. No joke. If you’re a lawyer, feel free to disagree with me, so you can charge someone your BS fees to give the same advice. If you can think of anything to add, please do so. I might be missing things. If you want to argue with me, feel free. I might be wrong on any of the items below. There are many types of business. Depending on your business, some of these won’t apply. All of these questions come from questions I’ve been asked. The rules are: I’m going to give no explanations. Just listen to me.

Something to think about:

Jobs, Robots, Capitalism, Inequality, And You – Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe everything will be fine. Maybe the “widening gap between rich and poor” is temporary. Maybe the steady growth in the proportion of jobs that are part-time and/or low-paid will soon reverse. Or maybe the idea that all the homeless need are old laptops and a few JavaScript textbooks is not unlike the claim that new technologies automatically create new jobs for everyone. Maybe, unless something drastic changes, most people are totally screwed.

Today’s Free Downloads:

Process Lasso – Process Lasso’s ProBalance technology intelligently adjusts the priority of running programs so that badly behaved programs won’t interfere with your ability to use the computer! In addition, Process Lasso offers capabilities such as default process priorities and affinities, termination of disallowed processes, instance count limits, a system responsiveness graph, logging of processes, keep select processes running (auto-restart), and much more!

Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner 3.4 – Protector Plus – Windows Vulnerability Scanner checks your system for Windows Vulnerabilities. It guides you to update with the right patch to make your system secure. This program is updated regularly by Proland Software to detect all the vulnerabilities discovered.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Don’t tell me you thought we’d be done with NSA stories – The NSA story just gets more and more out of control, Assange phones it in to the Wikileaks party, Manning gets sentenced, and oh so much more. If this stuff weren’t true, you’d think it would be in a bad Bruce Willis movie.

NSA paid tech firms over Prism, says latest Snowden leak – Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft all received money to cover costs related to surveillance requests, the UK’s Guardian reports, citing documents provided by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The NSA Reportedly Bugged The UN’s New York Headquarters – Some of the documents obtained by Der Spiegel speak nicely to the sort of banality those involved ascribed to their actions — “The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!),” one of them reads. In the weeks that followed the number of decrypted communications surged from 12 to 458 (and almost assuredly grew from there) and it appears that the NSA has only expanded its surveillance of extra-national bodies.

Tech firms’ responses to latest NSA disclosures cloud the truth, experts say – Technology companies may be hiding behind legal jargon to avoid being more forthcoming in their responses to new documents on government surveillance that were disclosed Friday, some experts say. Internet and software companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook “are legally compelled to lie,” said security expert Bruce Schneier, citing national security letters that companies are prohibited from disclosing.

Guardian teams up with New York Times for future Snowden GCHQ coverage – Faced with a mounting backlash from UK authorities, The Guardian newspaper has announced that it will collaborate with The New York Times to release further documents detailing the activities of the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters. The move comes after CCHQ agents reportedly smashed up hard drives and computers belonging to Guardian staffers when editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger refused to turn over materials leaked by Snowden.

Report: Secret British spy base in Middle East taps region’s internet – Among the vast haul of information lifted from secret networks by former US intelligence sysadmin Edward Snowden are details of a top-secret British spy base placed in the Middle East to tap into undersea communications cables and eavesdrop on the region’s internet, it has been reported. According to the Independent, the clandestine base is used to hoover up huge amounts of data, such as emails, telephone calls and web traffic.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 23, 2013

Protect your car tech privacy with these six simple tips – Your car stores a lot of your personal information. Much in the same way that you think about protecting the personal data in your smartphone, PC, and social media, you should also think about the information stored in your ride. Listed below are a few ways to protect your private data and protect yourself when behind the wheel.

11 ways to trick Android into using less data – With expensive tiered data plans, it’s easy to hit your limit. Follow this guide to cut back on data usage (and avoid overage charges). With the proper configurations, you’ll find yourself using data at a much slower rate — so much so, perhaps, that you could even step down a tier.

5 tips to make your Facebook account safer – Help better safeguard your Facebook profile with these 5 quick tips.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Jive survey hints the work/life balance concept is dead – Think you’re having trouble managing your work priorities with your personal life? It’s not just you. Jive commissioned Harris Interactive to hone in on opinions of adults 18 and over across the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia between July 16 and July 18. When taken together, 91.3 percent of employed adults in these three nations admitted to working during personal time.

The Best Apps for Amazing Smartphone Videos – You can do far more with that video than just posting the raw footage on Facebook. There are two apps that can make your smartphone video shine. The best app for you depends on what type of footage you are recording and what you hope to achieve in your finished piece.

Who knew? Privacy is a concern for teenagers, study shows – The current generation of teenagers seems willing to share anything on social media, but cares more about privacy than you think, according to a recent Pew study. One in four teenagers have uninstalled a mobile app because they found out it was collecting personal information they didn’t want to share, said a report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

Facebook puts a stop to unwanted posts by mobile apps – The social network gives members more clarity and control over what gets posted to their Facebook account when signing in to third-party applications with Facebook Login.

Download Picks highlight the best all-around software on – A new award for the cream-of-the-crop software on lets you know which apps editors and users have rated the best in their respective categories.

Google Search Gets Improved Dictionary Definitions With Sample Sentences, Synonyms, Translations And Usage Stats – A small but cool update to Google Search: Google’s dictionary definitions – which you can invoke by using a query like “define crunch ” – now feature significantly more information about virtually every word in its catalog. This update, Google says, is meant to “give you more information about these words beyond just their definition.”

With Frontback, there are two sides to every iPhone photo – Simple and fun, the one-month-old iPhone application has already been downloaded 200,000 times and is striking a cord with tech celebs.

Don’t stop the music! Pandora ends 40-hour mobile limit – Six months after capping free mobile listening at 40 hours, Pandora is letting listeners keep the music going as long as they like without a fee, mostly because it’s found other ways to crimp how long you tune in.

Vicious cycle boosts use of browser-based ad blockers – Nearly one in four browsers are armed with an ad-blocking tool, reducing revenue at free-content websites, an Irish company said today. The popularity of ad blocking — driven by users’ frustrations with intrusive, distracting or just-plain-ugly-and-noisy ads — threatens the free-for-all model of the Internet, said PageFair, a company that’s helping content publishers audit the problem and try to stem some of the bloodletting.

Five mostly free apps for compressing archive files in Windows – There are some application gems out there for handling archives in Windows with great power and flexibility.

MakerBot’s new 3D scanner will run you $1,500 and ship in October – MakerBot, one of the largest and best-known companies in the world of 3D printing, has finally announced a release date (October 2013) and price ($1,500) for its highly-anticipated 3D scanner, the MakerBot Digitizer.

Xerox releases patch for scanning error issue – Xerox has issued the first software patch intended to fix a problem in some multi-function printers that causes characters to be incorrectly reproduced when scanned.

Curious’s Video Learning App Comes to the iPad – This YouTube rival emphasizes high-quality video and instructional content.


Researchers: Popular download management program has hidden DDoS component – Recent versions of Orbit Downloader, a popular Windows program for downloading embedded media content and other types of files from websites, turns computers into bots and uses them to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, according to security researchers. Starting with version released in December, the Orbit Downloader program silently downloads and uses a DLL (Dynamic Link Library) component that has DDoS functionality, malware researchers from antivirus vendor ESET said Wednesday in a blog post.

Fake Malwarebytes Scammer Surveys Victims – The twitter account, @malwarebytesx, has posted heavily over the last couple days about Malwarebytes Anti-Malware being available (both legitimately and a cracked version) at a posted link. They even created a variation of our logo and got 51 people to follow them! The link leads to a blogspot page titled “Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.75 Full + Serial” that is covered in our signage and provides a link to download “Malwarebytes Anti-Malware” with text and graphics directly from our own website.

Cisco patches serious vulnerabilities in Unified Communications Manager – Cisco Systems released new security patches for several versions of Unified Communications Manager (UCM) to address vulnerabilities that could allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands, modify system data or disrupt services.

German government denies Windows ‘back door’ claims – The German government doles out common-sense advice on using Windows 8 and TPM 2.0 chips in conjunction, but it’s distorted by some observers into wild claims of “back doors.”

Personal Information at Stake in Enterprise Mobile Apps – There have been several reports this year indicating that many popular, free apps and a surprising number of the most popular paid apps – either Android or iOS – are not good at safeguarding sensitive information. From contacts to calendars, an amazingly high percentage of app developers don’t seem concerned with protecting your sensitive information.

Company News:

Yahoo reclaims top web property spot from Google in ComScore US report – For the first time in over two years, Yahoo came in at number on on ComScore’s list of Top 50 US Web Properties. The list, which was just released today, is a bit of a surprise, as Yahoo hasn’t claimed the top position since May 2011. While initial speculation made it seem like the acquisition of Tumblr had something to do with this boost, that is not the case.

“Start menu” on Lenovo Windows 8 PCs will nag you to install apps – The devil is in the details. This isn’t a straightforward replacement of Microsoft’s iconic Start menu, which was left out of Windows 8 in favor of the touch-friendly Start screen. According to SweetLabs, Lenovo PCs “will include Pokki’s modern Start menu, app store, and game arcade out-of-the-box, all powered by SweetLabs’ dynamic app recommendation and distribution platform.”

Apple buys transit-app maker Embark – Apple has purchased another company that deals in local map data. This time it’s Embark, a company that specializes in public-transit information and directions.

Canonical Ubuntu Edge smartphone production still a possibility – Earlier today, we reported that Canonical’s Indiegogo campaign to fund an Ubuntu-based smartphone missed its crowdfunding goal by a mile. However, we’re now learning that Canonical has every intention of moving forward in another capacity, calling the campaign a success and noting that the $12.8 million they did manage to raise was the largest amount raised for a crowdfunding campaign ever.

Games and Entertainment:

Maingear Shift Super Stock Z87 ($8,000) – This incredibly expensive performance desktop packs premium components and water-cools them to deliver benchmark-destroying performance while remaining whisper quiet.

Goose Chase: Playing chicken in Sir, You Are Being Hunted – As the titular Sir (or Madam), you’re dropped into a procedurally generated world consisting of five islands. Each hosts a few of the 25 chunks of a failed experiment; you’ll need to collect and deliver these pieces to a pillar on the central island to get home. The murderous robots who occupy the island would prefer you didn’t, giving chase whenever you’re in sight. So you’ll be doing a lot of slinking, crouching in tall grass or hiding behind walls as they clink and clank about.

Xbox One launch game Ryse: Son of Rome includes microtransactions – Gamers interested in playing Ryse: Son of Rome can take comfort in the fact microtransactions are just a feature of multiplayer, not the single-player experience. But this does act as a reminder that developers/publishers are experimenting with offering incentives and shortcuts for spending money while you play, rather than just to purchase a game in the first place.

Good News / Bad News For Gamers in France – It’s often easy to forget that gaming is a world-wide phenomenon, not just a US one. Why shouldn’t people all over the world love gaming, right? While we at TGD often cover gaming in the American market, it’s interesting to see how the gaming market does all over the world.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The sleep-texting epidemic – Earlier this year, a Philadelphia doctor offered that teens were texting in their sleep. Now it seems the disease is spreading.

Google Street View visits the zoo – Google has gone to a lot of interesting places with Street View in recent months, but none might as odd and perhaps not-as-exciting than a zoo, a place we’ve all been to at least once when we were kids, but Google wants to bring the experience to your computer screen just in case you feel like taking a field trip during your lunch break, and provide with a zoo experience you might have never been through.

Geek Answers: What’s outside the universe? – Asking what’s outside the universe carries with it any number of implications and assumptions, each of which have to be addressed and, ultimately, deflected with conditional language. However, there’s no better or more convenient way to phrase the question, so we’ll go forward with it: What is outside the universe?

India overtakes Japan for 3rd largest Internet population – The country’s user base grew 31 percent on-year to 73.9 million, just behind China and the U.S., according to a ComScore study.

Police Use Instagram to Bust the Largest Gun Ring in NYC History – In total, police seized 254 guns including two semi-automatic Soviet-era rifles and a fully automatic MAC-11.

The Most Awesome Animation About Quantum Computers You Will Ever See – You might think the title is a little exaggerated, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Theoretical Physicists so far, it’s to be bold with my conjectures about reality.Welcome to the second installment of our series of animations about Quantum Information!

Researchers discover that the human foot is just like any other ape foot – Researchers at the University of Liverpool studies more than 25,000 steps made on a pressure-sensitive treadmill at the University’s Gait Lab. The results indicate that our feet are not the wonderful mechanisms of human genetic superiority but are closer those of great apes, the other humanoids on the planet.

Something to think about:

“The history of our race, and each individual’s experience, are sown thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.”

–    Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

AceMoney Lite 4.35 – AceMoney helps you organize and manage your personal finances quickly and easily. AceMoney is available in English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Polish, Hungarian and Swedish, with more languages to come. It supports all the features required for home or even small-business accounting. With AceMoney you can manage multiple accounts of different types: checking, savings, credit cards, loans, debt accounts, etc.

WebSiteSniffer 1.35 – WebSiteSniffer is a packet sniffer tool that captures all Web site files downloaded by your Web browser while browsing the Internet, and stores them on your hard drive under the base folder that you choose. WebSiteSniffer allows you to choose which type of Web site files will be captured: HTML Files, Text Files, XML Files, CSS Files, Video/Audio Files, Images, Scripts, and Flash (.swf) files.

Image Tuner 4.2 – Image Tuner is free software for batch resizing, converting, watermarking and renaming your digital photos and images from and to JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF and GIF formats. The program will help you to prepare your digital photos to upload and publish them in the Internet or send via e-mail.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK court grants “limited injunction” to halt authorities’ access to seized data – On Thursday, an attorney representing David Miranda told reporters outside a London courtroom that her client had been granted a “limited injunction” to halt the British government’s access to digital data recently seized by local authorities.

White House Lies Underscore the NSA’s Indefensibility – “There is no spying on Americans.” That’s the official position, and White House spokesman Josh Earnest reiterated it on Wednesday, just a couple of hours after a new flurry of documents showing that they are most assuredly spying on Americans. The White House position is a flat out lie, and it’s not the only one they’ve told in the past few weeks about the NSA. President Obama’s press briefing on the matter centered on repeatedly claiming that the NSA surveillance is only carried out under intense, regular oversight from both Congress and the FISA courts.

Obama’s “outside experts” surveillance review panel has deep ties to gov’t – a new report published late Wednesday from ABC News reveals that four of the panelists have longstanding ties to government and intelligence infrastructure, leading some legal scholars outside government to question how independent it actually will be.

Kucinich: “Everybody Lies To Congress; Abolish NSA, Celebrate Snowden” – Kucinich, known for his strong stance on privacy and civil liberties, urged attendees at the premiere of a documentary on government and corporate abuse of digital data that it was unacceptable to allow the government to continue to destroy constitutional rights. “We have the CIA, the FBI, a dozen other intelligence infrastructures. Frankly — and I’m saying this with a lifetime’s experience in government here — it’s time to punch the NSA’s ticket here.”

Four ways the Guardian could have protected Snowden – by THE NSA – Spooks’ own advice lays out exactly how this crypto wypto hypto thing works.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 22, 2013

Back to School: The Top Apps for Teachers – Students aren’t the only ones bringing electronic devices to school. Teachers are also in the midst of this BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) age, and it’s far better for them to be friends with smartphones and tablets than to pretend they’re not out there. In fact, with the right devices teachers may not even need a pen, paper, or laptop to get their work done.

Back to School: Best Apps for Students – Wondering which mobile apps your kids should have loaded on their devices as they head back to class? Here’s a list for all pupils, from kindergarteners to college students.

Three ways to optimize your Android tablet for work productivity – The best thing about Android tablets is that you don’t need to rewire them or add hardware to make them more useful. All you have to do is check if they run properly, install helpful apps, and put up proper security measures. Here are three ways to turn your tablet into an optimized productivity-boosting tool.

Facebook Aims To Be A News Source By Now Letting Everyone Embed Public Posts – With hashtags, trending topics, verified profiles, and now the ability to embed public posts on external websites, Facebook is making a big push to become a primary source of real-time news, both for journalists and readers. It opened post embeds to a few partners last month. Now anyone can grab embed codes from public posts, and Facebook’s added in-line video playback, and better mobile display.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Maps Now Features Real-time Crowdsourced Accident Info – Google Maps just got a little bit more powerful. The iOS and Android versions of the mapping application now include real-time crowdsourced traffic and road hazard notifications from Waze.

Box Doubles Free Plan to 10GB, Adds SMB ‘Starter’ Plan – Cloud-storage and collaboration service Box on Wednesday doubled its free personal plan from 5GB to 10GB of storage, and launched a brand-new starter plan specifically tailored for small businesses.

Omate TrueSmart Watch Makes Calls All By Itself – The Omate TrueSmart watch promises to have a built-in microSIM card slot, so you can make calls and get text messages without tethering to your smartphone.

Five apps for creating business graphics – Businesses large and small periodically need to create custom graphics for marketing and other purposes. Although Photoshop is often the tool of choice for creating business graphics, it is far from being the only tool available. This article discusses a variety of graphical tools that can be used to create varying types of business graphics.

10 ways to get the most from VirtualBox – When it comes time to virtualize aspects of your office, you’re going to want to know the ins and outs of the software you’re using. If that software is VirtualBox, there are plenty of tricks for getting more from that virtualization platform. Whether you are an old-hat at VirtualBox or a newbie, you can maximize the benefits from this software if you know what you’re looking for.

Never run out of new places to go, thanks to Foursquare – The app helps you find new and interesting local spots so you (ideally) never get bored.

Google’s new Helpouts let you make money while you Hangout – Helpouts lets anyone (for now, anyone with an invite code) set up shop online. Payments are made using Google Wallet, and Google will take a 20% cut. There are, of course, restrictions on the types of services you can provide. Things like private cooking lessons, language coaching, and bike repair? All fine. Private sex shows and one-on-one gambling? Not so much.

Running Windows XP means you are non-compliant and open to liability – On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will not release any security patches for Windows XP, which will effectively make it non-compliant with HIPAA / HITECH.

Break out of the blogging doldrums – Unfortunately, without sound and consistent execution of good blogging practices, it’s highly likely your business blog will just become a shell filled with hopeful expectations. Here are suggestions for making your new business blog effective at capturing your expectations of success, or for making your existing business blog even better.

Staples supplies bad news on PC sales – Office supply retailer lays out some hard numbers for shrinking PC sales. Tablets are where the action is.

Mac Antivirus Solutions Compared – AV-Comparatives, an independent antivirus test lab, has released a test of 8 antivirus products for the Mac. Unfortunately, antivirus isn’t the most interesting part of these products.


See how easily freaks can take over your life (video 4:15) – Would you panic while internet crooks took over your life? We put one real victim through the test. We scared the hell out of him by gradually taking over his life. His freaked out reactions, should urge people to be very vigilant and never to share personal and banking information by mail or by telephone. (Highly recommended.)

Hackers attack League of Legends, steal user account data and credit card info – Late Tuesday, Riot Games announced that hackers managed to breach the company’s servers, swiping the usernames, email addresses, salted password hashes, and real-word names of North American players of the uber-popular League of Legends game. Worse, nearly 120,000 credit card transactions have been accessed.

Cybercrooks use DDoS attacks to mask theft of banks’ millions – At least three US banks in recent months have been plundered by fraudulent wire transfers while hackers deployed “low powered” DDoS attacks to mask their theft, Avivah Litan, an analyst at research firm Gartner, told She declined to name the institutions affected but said the attacks appeared unrelated to the wave of DDoS attacks last winter and spring that took down Web sites belonging to JP Morgan , Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup, HSBC, and others.

Poison Ivy, used in RSA SecurID attack, still popular – Poison Ivy is a remote access trojan (RAT) that was released eight years ago but is still favored by some hackers, FireEye wrote in a new report released Wednesday. It has a familiar Windows interface, is easy to use and can log keystrokes, steal files and passwords.

Company News:

Microsoft turns Scroogled into ‘Schoolgled’ in new anti-Google attack ad – The latest wave in the Scroogled campaign, timed to coordinate with the announcement of “Bing for Schools,” slammed the Google search engine’s practice of placing advertisements on results pages. As an alternative, Microsoft has offered schools an ad-free version of its Bing search engine and let parents apply Bing Rewards credits — earned for using the company’s search service — to schools, which can redeem them for free Surface RT tablets.

Google reportedly reserving Best Buy space in 2014 for Google Glass – An interesting, if somewhat brief, rumor has surfaced by way of Robert Scoble, who took to Google+ earlier. Reportedly, Google is renting quite a bit of space in Best Buy stores in 2014 for the purpose of selling Google Glass. There isn’t much information to go right now, but the source alluded to something big in Google’s plans.

Telepathy One wearable Google Glass rival scores millions in initial funding round – The company behind the rather stylish device – Telepathy Inc. – has scored $5 million in its initial round of funding, something that will help the company get its product into consumer hands sometime next year, if all goes as planned. The funds will go to bringing in more engineers.

Hewlett-Packard Turns 3Q Profit but Revenue Falls – Hewlett-Packard made a profit in the latest quarter, reversing a huge loss a year ago that stemmed from an $8 billion charge. But the technology bellwether’s revenue declined amid weakness in the PC market that shows no signs of easing.

Games and Entertainment:

Trailer: Blizzard announces Diablo III expansion Reaper of Souls – If you’ve stuck with Diablo III this long (and bully on you if you have), chances are good that you’re desperate for some new content beyond grinding the end game for better and better loot and slightly increased stat numbers. Blizzard feels your pain. Today, the company announced an expansion called Reaper of Souls that promises to extend the game with significant new content past the already significant patches and tweaks currently available.

Gone Home review: Where the heart is – Haunting interactive story has the emotional resonance of a good art house movie. But Gone Home isn’t a movie. You control it with a mouse and keyboard; you walk through its world and uncover its plot and secrets. The term “video game” doesn’t really fit well either, though, as its interactivity is very limited. The story is the star, not your ability to react quickly or solve puzzles. You do little more than wander slowly, pick up hand-written letters, and listen to audio diaries.

Activision offers $10 upgrade path for Call of Duty: Ghosts on PS4, Xbox One – What that means is, select titles that you choose to purchase for the PS3, can also be purchased on the PS4 at a greatly reduced price. In other words: buy current gen, then upgrade to next-gen for a few dollars. Such a program should keep gamers purchasing key games on their PS3 knowing they’ve got an easy and cheap upgrade path when the PS4 is available to buy.

Bethesda planning $15 monthly fee for Elder Scrolls Online – Just a few years ago, it would have been completely unremarkable for new massively multiplayer game to charge a monthly fee to players. But today, it counts as news when Bethesda confirms (via an interview with GameStar) that The Elder Scrolls Online will cost players $15 a month (€12.99/£8.99 in Europe) after a 30-day trial period.

A Quick Guide to the PlayStation 4 Launch, Including the Games Lineup – We now know pretty much all we need to about Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 launch: It’ll be here in mid-November (before Thanksgiving), it costs $100 less than Microsoft’s Xbox One (and $50 more than a Deluxe Wii U) and it looks more or less like a trapezoidal PS2. Here’s more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Dr. Phil to Twitter: Is it OK to have sex with drunk girl? – A tweet from the famous TV shrink gets a stormy reaction from his followers and others. It is later removed.

Smartphone display wars go to ludicrous speed: 2560×1440 in 5.5 inches – Tired of the absolutely terrible 468 pixels per inch (PPI) of the HTC One, or Apple’s hideous retina display with its measly 326 PPI? Then LG has some great news, in the form of a 5.5-inch, 2560×1440, “Quad HD” IPS panel. That’s a resolution you’d normally find on a screen measuring 27″ or 30″ diagonally, and it yields a whopping 538 PPI.

Free Surface RT tablets for schools: Should kids have to use what adults don’t want? – Microsoft’s new “Bing for Schools” plan will give away Surface RT tablets to schools whose staff, children, and parents use an ad-free version of Bing. It sounds like a great idea — but should schoolkids be using technology that parents and other adults have shown they don’t want?

How Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu are slowly turning your PC into a smartphone – Once the belle of the technology ball, desktops and laptops now share the spotlight with smartphones and tablets, and the embrace of mobile devices by consumers has provoked deep changes in the computing landscape. No, PCs aren’t dying out, but they are shifting form to more closely resemble the Hot New Things. And there’s good reason for it.

Tech Gets Its Own “Modest Proposal” – In Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” he postulates that one solution to the problem of poverty in Ireland is that the poor sell their offspring to rich people as food. In Patrick McConlogue’s “Finding the unjustly homeless, and teaching them to code,” he makes a similar logical leap, that fixing the “lost pieces” of humanity can happen with a couple of books of JavaScript How-Tos and an old laptop.

Stormy weather — on the sun — heading toward Earth – With a massive coronal eruption from the sun, NASA warns of an approaching geomagnetic storm. While the effects will probably be mild, some power grid and satellite services could be disrupted.

Something to think about:

There’s so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?”

–      Dick Cavett

Today’s Free Downloads:

ArsClip – ArsClip gives you a much more powerful clipboard than the default in Windows. It adds so many bonus features that you might not even know where to begin. It’s a fantastic download for anyone who frequently cuts and pastes chunks of text. (Note: this app is a CNET download – pay particular attention to the installer which is loaded with additional software offers that you probably don’t want.)

FreeCommander – Having too many icons and too much information isn’t necessarily a bad thing for this program. FreeCommander is one of the most detailed file management tools you’ll find for free. That makes it a great download for users who want more information and options that Windows or other freeware won’t give them. (Note: this app is a CNET download – pay particular attention to the installer which is loaded with additional software offers that you probably don’t want.)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA unlawfully stored 56,000 US emails a year, 2011 court ruling reveals – The NSA’s PRISM program unlawfully gathered “tens of thousands” of emails and other communications in a surveillance sweep described as “fundamentally different” to what courts had approved, according to a newly-declassified FISA court opinion. The 2011 ruling by John D. Bates, chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court responsible for green-lighting monitoring, slammed the National Security Agency for misleading on what, exactly, it was collecting, the Washington Post reports, after the Electronic Frontier Foundation petitioned to have the document released.

US Director Of National Intelligence Launches Tumblr Site “IC On The Record” To Assuage Surveillance Concerns – The U.S. office of National Intelligence launched a new site today to promote government transparency in the wake of the months-long scandals surrounding the National Security Agency’s surveillance tactics. The site is a good idea on the surface, but such great portions of the declassified documents are (and, I presume, will continue to be) redacted that it won’t end up being a big help.

The NSA’s phony national firewall proposal – According to an anonymously-sourced report in the New York Times, the NSA wants to build a firewall/IDS/IPS around the whole United States of America. The idea is completely ridiculous, impractical in the extreme, and perhaps just a ruse for other operations.

In Salt Lake City for the 2002 Olympics? The NSA may have read your texts – A report from the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday gives a much clearer look at how—and how much—information is gathered by the secret NSA programs recently brought to light in the Edward Snowden leaks. The WSJ’s report relies on the testimony of multiple anonymous “current and former intelligence and government officials and people from companies that help build or operate the systems, or provide data.”


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 21, 2013

Good News: Phishing Protection Actually Works – Austrian testing lab AV-Comparatives put 16 popular suites to the test. Over a one-week period they scoured the Internet to locate active phishing sites, eliminating any duplicates or invalid sites and ensuring that every sample actively attempted to steal login credentials. 187 phishing URLs remained after validation. The researchers then simply attempted to visit those sites using test systems protected by each of the 16 suites, noting which ones were blocked by each product.

How non-Dropbox users can send files to your Dropbox account – What if someone wants to send a file to you via Dropbox? Unless they have Dropbox accounts of their own, they can’t. Now they can. Browser-based Dbinbox enables Dropbox sharing in the other direction: It generates a custom link that others can use to send files to your Dropbox.

Get 1GB extra Dropbox space just for using Mailbox – Download a free app, connect it to your Dropbox account, and get 1GB of extra space for free? Sign me up!

Chrome 29 adds a reset button – The update also brings a fresh reset feature, similar to Firefox’s own browser reset button. This is helpful for eliminating all those unwanted extensions and unintended add-ons that you may have accumulated over the years inside your Chrome extensions. Your themes, bookmarks, and Chrome apps should still remain intact.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Handbrake tips for DVD transcoders – Handbrake is a great app. I’ve learned a few things after ripping hundreds of my DVDs you might want to know.

Google Maps Gets Waze Real-Time Traffic Reports – Google on Tuesday provided some details on how it will integrate Waze into Google Maps. This means that when Waze users report accidents, construction, road closures and other incidents, the information will also appear in the Google Maps app for Android and iOS.

Tech legal news site Groklaw shutting down, citing email privacy concerns – Running Groklaw is impossible now due to government surveillance, according to site owner Pamela Jones. Groklaw, which was launched 10 years ago, has been known for its exhaustive coverage of technology law, particularly involving software patents, open source software and privacy issues.

App turns old iPhones, iPads into a home security system – Planning to upgrade your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch? Instead of selling or recycling your old iOS devices, you can turn them into home security cameras with the Presence app by People Power.

Overclocking: Why you should and should not do it – Every processor is packaged and priced to run at a particular clock speed–for instance, 3100 MHz. But that speed is an estimate, and usually a conservative one. You can usually bump it up a bit without causing problems. Sometimes, you can bump it up quite a bit.

Bill Gates pitches in for online education resource Graphite – The Microsoft chairman and longtime donor to educational causes partners with Common Sense Media to launch a Web site that offers free apps, games, and curricula to teachers.

Google Project Loon trial hunts volunteers to test balloon internet – Google is hunting volunteers to test early Project Loon balloon-broadcast internet services, proposing mounting bulbous Loon antennas on participants’ roofs. Limited to those in California’s Central Valley, the research scheme would see the antennas stress-testing Project Loon’s potential bandwidth as the high-altitude balloons pass overhead.

Buy Me a Pie Manages and Syncs Grocery Lists Across Android and iOS – Grocery list apps are a fairly “no frills” endeavor. Well, most of the time they are. Buy Me a Pie has just launched on Android, and it has a really killer UI and feature set.

Google Glass App Lets You Scan Bar Codes, Price Check – In terms of practical applications, there is one new app that is sure to win a lot of fans, particularly among those who take their shopping excursions seriously. It’s called Crystal Shopper, a Google Glass app that lets the wearer scan and price compare products via bar code.


White House asks Supreme Court to rule on warrantless phone searches – Should cops be allowed to search your phone if you’ve been arrested? The courts can’t make up their minds, and the Obama administration wants to find out.

‘Instagram for PC’ application is a marketing scam – An advertisement circulating on Facebook and Twitter for a desktop version of the photo-sharing application Instagram is a scam, according to security vendor Symantec.

League of Legends is hacked, with crucial user info accessed – One of the world’s most popular online video games falls prey to a security breach involving usernames, e-mail addresses, salted passwords, and 120,000 salted credit card numbers.

Is metadata collected by the government a threat to your privacy? – Seemingly unobtrusive digital bytes known as metadata have been vaulted to the tech media limelight. What is metadata, and why all of a sudden is it so interesting to so many?

Company News:

Facebook And 6 Phone Companies Launch To Bring Affordable Access To Everyone – Facebook has just announced a partnership with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, and Qualcomm to launch, a project aimed at bringing affordable Internet access to the five billion people without it.

ZTE Open Firefox OS smartphone sells out – Though it just went up for sale on Friday, the ZTE Open is already sold out on eBay after just a weekend’s availability. Both US and UK eBay stores no longer have any stock of the Firefox OS-running phone, the Telegraph reports, which means consumers will need to wait until another production run is made before they can get their hands on one.

HP equips WorkSite with file-sharing service – Hewlett-Packard has launched a file storage service for users of its Autonomy WorkSite document management software that it promises can be more helpful than consumer-focused hosted file services.

VMware, Citrix and Microsoft virtual desktops get encryption security – AFORE Solutions today announced encryption software aimed at securing data in virtualized environments where Microsoft Windows applications are used, including virtualized desktop infrastructure deployments based on VMware, Citrix or Microsoft VDI.

McAfee exec tapped for top Homeland Security post – Phyllis Schneck will take the position of Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), which has four divisions that oversee physical and cybersecurity for U.S. infrastructure.

Barnes & Noble backtracks, decides to keep designing Nook tablets after all – Barnes & Noble is backtracking on an earlier decision to stop designing its own tablets, and says it will produce at least one new Nook device in time for the holiday shopping season.

Games and Entertainment:

Plants vs. Zombies 2 hints, tips, and tricks: Gameplay and cash shop mastery – If you’re feeling stuck or like the cash shop is insurmountable, these quick hints, tips, and tricks will get you through both the game, as well as help you figure out how you should approach the cash shop (which can turn the game from free-to-play to rather expensive quite quickly).

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified launch hits USA today; overseas August 23rd – The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is now available in North America. Developed by 2K and 2K Marin of BioShock 2 fame, The Bureau combines typical strategy and action game elements into a story-driven tactical shooter that expands the world of XCOM all while still staying true to the brand’s reputation and traditional themes.

Divekick review: A much needed kick in the face for fighting games – Surprisingly deep two-button gameplay is accessible, engrossing, and pure. By stripping out most of the modern complexities of fighting games and many of the features that were taken for granted even 20 years ago, it reduces the genre to its bare essentials. What’s left is a refreshingly pure strategic experience that’s still surprisingly deep.

Minecraft headed to PlayStation 4: Notch-gifted Golden PSOne a success – As the multi-platform gaming title Minecraft continues to expand in popularity with web browser, mobile, and console-based block-building action, today Sony announced the continuation of the title for PlayStation 4.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why Can’t My Computer Understand Me? – In a terrific paper just presented at the premier international conference on artificial intelligence, Levesque, a University of Toronto computer scientist who studies these questions, has taken just about everyone in the field of A.I. to task. He argues that his colleagues have forgotten about the “intelligence” part of artificial intelligence. (suggested by Michael F.)

Billions Wasted: Do Gift Cards Make Sense When So Many Go Unused? – Retailers and restaurants love gift cards—so much so that they load them with bonus cash in order to sell more cards. This makes total sense once you realize how often gift cards aren’t used at all, and how all those cards add up to billions of dollars in profits.

Who’s Responsible for the Internet? – I got an email from a reader the other day that basically accused me of colluding in child exploitation and harassment by CloudFlare, an international company that supplies Internet optimization and security to hundreds of thousands of websites. Why? Because this reader disapproves of a website that uses CloudFlare’s services, and I have written about CloudFlare.

Elmore Leonard, crime novelist, dies aged 87 – US crime writer Elmore Leonard, author of such books as Get Shorty, Maximum Bob and Out of Sight, has died at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke. The author of 45 novels, Leonard had been in the process of writing his 46th. (suggested by Michael F.)

How your iPhone uses more energy than a refrigerator – Maybe you drive a hybrid car and recycle your plastic containers. Perhaps you have bought carbon offsets, and even installed solar panels on your roof. But if you’re using an iPhone, you should know that a new study claims it uses more energy than a refrigerator.

School Has Become Too Hostile to Boys – As school begins in the coming weeks, parents of boys should ask themselves a question: Is my son really welcome? A flurry of incidents last spring suggests that the answer is no. In all these cases, school officials found the children to be in violation of the school’s zero-tolerance policies for firearms, which is clearly a ludicrous application of the rule. But common sense isn’t the only thing at stake here. In the name of zero tolerance, our schools are becoming hostile environments for young boys.

Something to think about:

Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem – In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by 1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians; and 2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.

Today’s Free Downloads:

Restore Point Creator 1.3.12 – Create and manage System Restore Points quickly and easily, all from a free simple program. No more drilling through multiple menus in Windows just to create a System Restore Point, now all you have to do is run this program and that’s it. Follow the simple program layout and you have your System Restore Point created in no time at all.

Cool PDF Reader – Cool PDF Reader is the smallest PDF viewer/reader to view and print PDF files, and convert PDFs to TXT, BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, WMF, EMF, EPS. It is only 655KB to download and doesn’t need lengthy installation, just download and run.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK Home Office defends nine-hour interrogation of journalist’s partner – Reactions are heating up surrounding the dramatic actions of the British government revealed in the last two days—specifically the Sunday detention of reporter Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at Heathrow airport, and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s revelation that GCHQ intelligence agents destroyed the newspaper’s hard drives in an attempt to block more reporting on National Security Agency (NSA) leaks.

Now Is The Time For All Good Nerds To Come To The Aid Of The Internet – The Internet is broken. It is burning. Facebook and Twitter fiddle while it smokes and we, the sapped members of the Internet class, watch the flames and wonder what’s next. Ignore this moment at your peril. To be clear, what the NSA is doing is far from technologically advanced. It is simple signals intelligence. It is grep writ large. However, the degree to which it has ensconced itself into the fabric of the Internet is breathtaking and the nonchalance and ignorance of the government officials involved is stunning. Now is the time for the nerds – and I mean this with all seriousness – to rally.

New Revelations Detail How The NSA Scans 75% Of The Internet Through Telco Partnerships – Meet Blarney, Fairview, Oakstar, Lithium and Stormbrew. The programs allow for far greater surveillance than the government has admitted to, and, importantly, detail how the government forces Internet service providers (ISPs) to hand over raw data.

Smashed Hard Drives, Shuttered Email Services, And The Slow Leak Of Free Speech – It can’t be easy defending the NSA’s surveillance efforts. The task continues to be made increasingly difficult by the myriad revelations that continue to spill from the treasure trove of information that Edward Snowden released to the world. It’s just metadata. It’s just metadata on all phone calls. No they can’t call up your emails. Well, yes, XKeyscore is real, and you should be happy we have it. No, there have been zero privacy abuses. Well, fine, in one 12-month period ending in 2012 there were 2,776, but that’s just proof of oversight and none were willful! Wrong.

What’s Wikileaks hiding in its 400GB of ‘insurance’ files? – On 16 August Wikileaks released an enormous collection of mysterious ‘insurance’ data on to the web. The data was released in 3 sizeable torrent files alongside a message asking the people of earth to mirror the data far and wide. The only statements by WikiLeaks have been released via Twitter – “WikiLeaks releases encrypted versions of upcoming publication data (“insurance”) from time to time to nullify attempts at prior restraint.”


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 20, 2013

Tips and tricks for speeding up your Android device – Android smartphones and tablets can become slow and sluggish over time. These easy-to-follow tips will help make your device run like new.

The worst deals in tech: Are you being fleeced by these 7 overpriced products? – As gadget enthusiasts, we accept the idea that products are worth what we’re willing to pay for them, and not what they cost in terms of product development, manufacturing, and materials. Nonetheless, it’s time to name names. Here are some of most egregiously high profit margins in the world of consumer tech.

Who’ll Get Your Gmail When You Die? – If you die or become incapacitated, who will take over your digital life? Google’s Inactive Account manager can help, but is it for you?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Glass: Coming soon to a cop near you? – One Connecticut-based firm is touting Google Glass as a technology that can aid and assist in cases of emergency, particularly when used by first responders. But with a rise in cops with cameras in the street, civil liberties groups say it could be a “win-win” for both police and public.

Loop Makes Quick Animated GIFs on iPad – Creating cool animations doesn’t have to be a tedious endeavor that consumes your life as you draw frame after painstaking frame until your fingers have been into twisted in arthritic claws. No, it’s much easier than that, especially with Loop. That’s a new $0.99 iPad app that lets you create simple animations in a few frames that can be exported as animated GIFs. It’s strangely fun.

Best photo storage sites – Wondering where to stash your photos online? CNET’s Donald Bell counts down the best five digital photo storage services.

Easily find free ebooks – You’ll want to start with Project Gutenberg’s site, which offers the most ebooks. Best of all you can chose from plain text to a Kindle version, so download it and pull it up in your Kindle app and you’re good to start reading.

10 Great Google Reader Replacements – These ten RSS feed readers all offer something different, whether it’s speed, simplicity, social interaction, or DIY-level customization. Which one is right for you?

Tweet all about it: Twitter tells you when tweets become news – In the name of context, the information network now points you to news articles where tweets are embedded.

7 mobile drives: More portable and more powerful – Mobile hard drives have become lighter and smaller while offering higher capacities at lower prices. We look at 7 of the latest models to help you choose.

The top WordPress tools for developers, designers, and consultants – Check out this list of WordPress tools that developers, designers, and consultants can use to write plugins, develop themes, and coordinate with team members and clients.

AirCast Sends Almost Any Video From Your Phone to a Chromecast – Chromecast is good, and has a ton of potential. A glimpse at the incredible things it will be able to do in the near future comes courtesy of none other than Koushik Dutta, better known as Koush from ClockworkMod. Koush has posted a preview version of AirCast, an upcoming app that will let you stream virtually any video from the gallery, Dropbox, or Google Drive.

5 budget laptops for college students: We name the best – To strike the best balance between performance and affordability, I gathered the top five notebooks I could find for $650 or less. Benchmark busters they’re not, but they aren’t budget busters, either.

YouTube lines up its latest hit with major mobile update – A big update to the YouTube app for Android enables people to browse other videos while watching, to search and watch playlists, and to queue videos on connected devices. YouTube for iOS is also expected to update soon.

Microsoft ad: Students fail if they use iPad – It’s back-to-school time. If you want to graduate and get one of the few jobs left for you, don’t use an iPad. You can’t multitask.

LinkedIn recruiting students with career-minded University Pages – The new pages, managed by university staffers, are meant to offer high school and college kids cheat sheets to desired career paths.


Hack to School: Beware the open school wi-fi – Like a lot of public wi-fi systems, the ones in schools are usually unencrypted and require a login. Don’t confuse the login with security of the connection.

The professionalization of malware – The high-end of malware is reaching a new level quality that comes from it being written by professional organizations with real budgets and high standards. Be afraid.

New variation of old malware steals log-in credentials from Steam users – A new variant of the Ramnit financial malware is using local Web browser injections in order to steal log-in credentials for Steam accounts, according to researchers from security firm Trusteer.

Google says UK privacy laws don’t apply to Safari cookies dispute – Google has told British consumers in a privacy claim that it does not have to answer to English courts and U.K. privacy laws don’t apply to it, according to the law firm for the plaintiffs.

Court rules that IP cloaking to access blocked sites violates law – In a case between Craigslist and data harvester 3Taps, a federal judge rules that changing an IP address or using a proxy server to access a blocked Web site violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Training software tracks your eyes to make sure you watch – Feature called FocusAssist pauses an online training course when the viewer looks away, ostensibly to “ensure complete end-user engagement.” Will this improve employee training, or is it too invasive?

Company News:

Tesco supermarket prepping tablet launch – British supermarket giant, Tesco, is looking to enter the competitive tablet market with their own brand of device. Likely to run Android, the tablet will be similar to the iPad and be available for the public around the holiday season, says The Sunday Times, and go on sale alongside the Kindle Fire, iPad mini, and a selection of low-cost Android-based models already stocked by the retailer.

Google Chrome said to unveil ‘Supervised User’ controls – Word has it that the Web giant is extending its multi-user accounts with a “Supervised User” feature that could help parents control what their children see on the Internet.

Microsoft Launches Skype For In The US, UK, Germany, France, Brazil And Canada – Today Microsoft announced that Skype integration inside its email service is now live and out of preview in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Brazil and Canada. The combination of Skype and brings together two of Microsoft’s most popular services, and provides the email service with a material competitive edge in its war with Google’s Gmail.

Instagram Cracks Down On Connected Apps Using “Insta” And “Gram” – Instagram has updated its brand guidelines to ban apps that feature either the word ‘Insta’ or ‘Gram’ in their names, and it has begun sending emails to existing apps requesting that they change those components ’within a reasonable period’.

Microsoft Tag service slated for shutdown in 2015 – QR codes have been a bit slower to catch on than some had anticipated, yet their victory over competing codes is solid, and again reaffirmed with an announcement by Microsoft today: its Tag service will be shut down on August 19, 2015.

BotObjects Vows To Put A 3D Printer In (Almost) Every High School – BotObjects, an intriguing 3D printing outfit that builds real, full-color additive prints out of multiple colored plastic filaments, has announced that they will offer free printers to select high schools in the United States and the UK.

Games and Entertainment:

Jobs deflates at the box office – Why would you make a film about such an iconic person and treat it like a Lifetime movie of the week and put Ashton Kutcher at the head of the cast? This should have been an earth shattering biography.

Xbox One launch titles reach 50 (with 19 exclusives) – With the 50 games listed by Microsoft today, the company has suggested that a whopping 38% of them (that’s 19 titles, if you’re counting) will be exclusive to the console. Have a peek and see if these names are worth the purchase in and of themselves.

EA begins offering refunds for its digital game sales on Origin – In its continuing effort to set itself apart from market leader Steam, EA has announced that titles it publishes on its Origin digital distribution service can now be returned for a full refund up to seven days after purchase if the consumer isn’t completely satisfied.

Find Virtual Reality Games With Oculus Share Marketplace – Oculus VR today launched its Share virtual marketplace in beta form, allowing developers to self-publish, download, and play the best VR experiences.

The Nvidia Shield Seemed Like A Fringe Device, But It’s Actually A Mobile Gaming Must-Have – After trying it out, I can say that no matter what Nvidia’s purpose was in putting together the Shield, I’m glad they’ve done so. More than my 3DS and Vita, this is a portable gaming console I could see myself using for a long, long time, and it is so much more than that.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why We Want TV to Be Disrupted So Badly – TV providers aren’t technology companies. We know the technology and the experience can be so much better.

Scanning the Internet in 45 Minutes – The Internet is a big thing. Or, more accurately, a big collection of things. Figuring out exactly how many things, and what vulnerabilities those things contain has always been a challenge for researchers, but a new tool released by a group from the University of Michigan that is capable of scanning the entire IPv4 address space in less than an hour.

CouchBunker Couch Stops Bullets Better Than Your Non-Bulletproof Couch – If you’re in the market for a new couch, bulletproof cushions might not be on your list of desired features, but let me ask you this: Are bulletproof cushions NOT on your list of desired features now that you know bulletproof couch cushions exist?

New Microsoft Tech Turns Any Surface into a Touchscreen – Software startup Ubi, in conjunction with Microsoft, has begun selling a system capable of turning any surface into a touchscreen.

Something to think about:

When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening, foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us.”

–    Barack Obama

Today’s Free Downloads:

Emsisoft Emergency Kit – The Emsisoft Emergency Kit contains a collection of programs that can be used without a software installation to scan and clean infected computers for malware.

Toolwiz Care – With a multi-functional optimization suite, this Windows system optimizer provides a collection of tools which includes System Checkup, System Cleanup, System Speedup, and 40+ powerful tools to enhance your PC performance, local and network security, and optimize the start-up procedure. Toolwiz team guarantees users that Toolwiz Care will stay free forever. This tool kit is designed for all levels of PC users from beginners to experts.

IObit Driver Booster Beta 3.1 – Driver Booster is a brand new driver updating tool. It protects your PC from hardware failures, conflicts, and resolves system crash problems caused by outdated drivers. All old drivers can be detected by simply clicking on the “Scan” button, and then you just need to click “Update All” button to refresh these outdated drivers. Compared with other driver updating tools, IObit Driver Booster can improve your PC performance for gaming as well.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK Govt. Destroyed Journalists’ Hard Drives In Failed Attempt To Stop NSA Story – The plot thickens. British authorities reportedly destroyed hard drives in an attempt to stop the Guardian from disseminating stories about classified mass-surveillance projects. Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger details how security experts from British intelligence agency, GCHQ, told him that the Guardian would have to either hand over their information or have their hard drives destroyed. The revelation is especially damaging to British authorities after yesterday’s international incident, where they detained David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, in London’s Heathrow airport and confiscated his laptop and camera.

NSA-dodging mail service explains why email can never truly be private and secure – Earlier this month, Lavabit and Silent Circle—two privacy-minded email providers—decided to shut up shop rather than give the U.S. government the chance to access to their customer data. Shortly thereafter, Lavabit owner Ladar Levison told Forbes, “If you knew what I knew about email, you might not use it.” This weekend, Silent Circle’s Louis Kowolowski dropped the cryptic comments and explained a major, inherent vulnerability with email: metadata.

Data-driven analysis debunks claims that NSA is out of control (Special Report) – Just how heinous is the National Security Agency? If press reports and blog postings are to be believed, the NSA and the entire government surveillance apparatus of the United States are completely out of control and we’re headed for a Gestapo-style state. But is that really true? What does the data have to say about it?

Don’t let NSA paranoia destroy your productivity – There’s an awful lot of paranoia going around these days. But the biggest threats to your privacy don’t come from the NSA or the FBI. They come from private companies building massive databases to track your movements. Here’s a sensible set of strategies to minimize privacy risks.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 19, 2013

Google has 5 minute outage: Internet traffic drops 40% – Between 23:52 and 23:57 BST on 16th August Google went down. The results put the fear of Google into every webmaster’s heart.

Miss Teen USA 2013 says sextortionist hacked webcam to snap bedroom photos – According to the LA Times, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed on Wednesday that it’s investigating claims by Wolf and other women who say that their webcams were hacked, photos or video were taken surreptitiously, and that the hacker or hackers then demanded money in exchange for keeping the photos out of public disclosure. The BBC reported in June, there’s a thriving black market for access to computers whose webcams have been compromised. Stolen webcam video of females cost $1 per “slave,” as they’re called. Stolen video of male slaves goes for $1/100 slaves.

Britain Detains Partner Of Journalist Who Exposed NSA Spying. Are They Crazy Or Stupid? – The partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who published classified information on U.S. government surveillance, was detained for 9 hours in London’s Heathrow Airport. On Sunday morning, David Miranda was detained for the maximum allowable time under British Law; his property was confiscated and has yet to be returned, according to Greenwald. If authorities were brazen enough to detain someone so closely connected to the leaks, it means they’ve probably extended their legal powers to intimidate others with less fame. Now a bright and unwavering spotlight is on their questionable tactics.

New disclosures heat surveillance law row – Revelations about secret orders requiring “backdoors” into online services fuel protests in New Zealand. Fresh disclosures about new surveillance laws in New Zealand has served to fuel a nationwide round of protests that kicked off in New Zealand over the weekend with a rally outside the home of Prime Minister John Key.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Track classes, assignments, and grades easily – Any student who wants complete control over their schedule, assignments, classes, and even grade point averages, should download this app.

6 Great YouTube Channels for the Latest News – If you’re one of countless cord-cutters who no longer have cable—or even if you aren’t, but you don’t find time to catch a lot of broadcast television—you may miss how the morning or evening news broadcast kept you up to date on the news and issues of the day. However, YouTube is here to help fill your knowledge gap.

Buying your biz a buzz: Hackers sell fake Instagram ‘likes’ – The Zeus virus, originally made to steal credit card data, is now being used to create bogus Instagram accounts that can “like” businesses on the popular service — if those businesses pay for the privilege.

Five free apps that collect PC information – If you’re looking to audit your PCs, you need to have the right tools to handle this task. If you’re in a very small company, with one or two PCs, gathering this information isn’t a challenge to your schedule. If, however, you’re looking at 10 or more machines to be audited, you’ll want to have a hand in the process of collecting this data.

Microsoft restores after partial outage – Microsoft on Saturday apologized for a three-day partial outage of and said the email service was back up and running, only to note hours later that problems still plagued some customers.

Four excellent Dropbox alternatives for your small-business storage needs – Dropbox and other popular cloud-storage providers are adequate for the average consumer, most services don’t meet small-business needs for security, affordability, real-time collaboration, and lots of file storage. Here are some Dropbox alternatives that do. Like Dropbox, each offers an easy-to-use interface, 2GB of free storage, and drag-and-drop syncing, and any are guaranteed to be a boon to your business.

Tweets contribute to charging driver with murder in fatal bike accident – An 18-year-old man from Pleasanton, California has seen charges against him increased from vehicular manslaughter to murder due, in part, to some tweets in which he bragged about his reckless driving. The man, Cody Hall, is being held in an Alameda county jail without bail, waiting for a trial.


LastPass password manager gets security patch against password leakage bug – Q. Why not use a password manager that can generate hard-to-guess passwords for you, and secure them with one super-password? A. But what if the password manager gets breached?

Security Researcher Hacks Mark Zuckerberg’s Wall To Prove His Exploit Works – Earlier this week, security researcher Khalil Shreateh discovered a Facebook bug that allowed a hacker to post on anyone’s wall, even if they weren’t that person’s friend. While he was able to prove to Facebook that his bug was legit (despite a response that it wasn’t a bug at all), Facebook wasn’t too happy with the way he did it: by using the bug to post on Zuck’s otherwise private wall.

Apple Store’s malware problem exposed by researchers – Georgia Tech researchers released an app into the Apple Store that masked malware as generic app functions. The exploit creates concerns about the migration of PC viruses to mobile, Apple’s app vetting procedures, and the general way we protect our phones for attacks.

Android becomes Windows’ equal as a target for hackers – With nearly an 80 percent market share, Android’s mobile dominance parallels Windows in the PC world, making Google’s operating system the “mobile world’s equivalent,” Kaspersky Lab said in its latest Threat Evolution report, released on Thursday. The difference between Windows and Android malware is that the latter is evolving much quicker, as criminals borrow from what they learned in targeting PCs since the 1990s.

Tech shops worry that younger workers brush off security – The generation gap has existed for—well —generations. But the current divide between twentysomethings and their elders in the information technology workforce, at least according to some experts, goes beyond the older cohort simply shaking their heads and muttering, “Kids these days.” There is, they say, a security divide.

Aussie ATM criminals embrace 3D printers for cashpoint crimes – As you can probably imagine, it didn’t take long for controversial uses to emerge for 3D printers, and one of the most newsworthy was the idea of “printing” parts for firearms. Now, crooks in Sydney are printing their own ATM skimming devices…

Beware spammers thriving in Facebook Groups – A couple of weeks ago I was flicking through Facebook on my iPad when I noticed this buffoon in my News Feed. There were in fact multiple postings from the buffoon in my feed that day – something I hadn’t seen before. How in Zuckerberg’s name did they get here? It has to do with how Facebook has designed its Groups feature. The short version: Because Facebook allows any friend to add you to any Group, it leaves the door wide open to spammers and says “come on in!”

Taking down “the largest child pornography conspiracy ever prosecuted” – How the Internet police mounted an international effort against “The Cache.”

Zealous Internet filter blocks Hamlet as ‘violent content’ – The unreliability of internet filters has been demonstrated at the British Library, where its Wi-Fi network blocked an author from reading an online version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as it was deemed to contain “violent content.”

Company News:

Barnes & Noble Undercuts Amazon, Kobo By Dropping NOOK Simple Touch GlowLight To $99 – The Nook Simple Touch GlowLight is one of the best ereaders on the market. It has a very nice form and a great screen. And now it’s also the cheapest of its kind. B&N just announced a $20 price cut, bringing the GlowLight’s price down to just $99. The ad-supported Kindle Paperwhite is $119 and the Kobo Glo is $129.99.

Facebook eyes mesh networks to connect users and businesses – Under the envisioned system, a wireless device would establish a connection with other wireless devices nearby. The communication wouldn’t run via the Internet but would be based on a direct link between the devices. Each device might be linked to one or many other devices, depending on the density of people in a certain area, and each would be open to sending, receiving and relaying messages as part of the mesh network.

Google-Microsoft feud over YouTube app escalates to ‘death blow’ – After Google blocks Windows Phone app, Microsoft’s top antitrust lawyer says rival is making up excuses

Gmail filters out Google’s competitors – The free email service has begun filtering some emails into a separate “Promotions” folder, which shifts them from the prime position they had in the users’ Inbox folder. Marketers are worried that conversion rates will be hurt by the change as Google rolls out the changes to its 425 million users. They could be right.

Samsung to release a 12-inch tablet, says Korea report – Tablets go large: Samsung is reportedly doing a 12-incher. Apple is also looking into larger tablets. Is this a trend?

Mozilla to ship ‘Metro-ized’ Firefox Dec. 10 – Mozilla will launch Firefox for Microsoft’s Windows 8 “Modern” user interface in mid-December, more than a year after the operating system’s launch, according to the open-source developer’s planning documents. Called the “Preview Release,” the touch-ready browser will be packaged with Firefox 26 for the Windows desktop. Firefox 26 is slated to ship Dec. 10.

Games and Entertainment:

10 Addictive Phone Games – Who needs friends when you’ve got one of these 10 addictive games on your phone?

It’s game over for Games for Windows Live: Microsoft shutters PC marketplace – The Games for Windows Live PC Marketplace will shut down on August 22. Microsoft’s long lambasted Games for Windows Live client will still function, so people can keep playing games they’ve already bought, but without a way to buy new games, Microsoft’s service is effectively in limbo.

Flash-based PlayStation 3 goes on sale in the U.S. For $199 – This version of the game console sports 12GB of flash storage, and is now Sony’s lowest-priced PlayStation 3 in the United States.

Guild Wars 2 Nabs ‘Fastest Selling Western MMO’ Crown, Looks East for More Records – The fastest selling MMO in the history of Western video games? Why World of War–err, wait a second…not World of Warcraft? Doesn’t WoW have a bazillion chart-topping subscribers? Isn’t it still cooking along nine years after it launched back in prehistoric November 2004?

Nintendo 3DS designated best selling game system in US again – The Nintendo 3DS has had a good run in recent months, and this past month is no different. Says the company in a press release sent out on Thursday, the Nintendo 3DS has earned the title of best-selling video game system in the United States for its third month in a row.

Xbox One games are region-free, games play on imported consoles just fine – Region-free games means that if those territories can get their hands on an Xbox One at launch — likely through internet-based avenues — then they will not have an issue playing games in their home country. So, this time around, the shafting these regions will experience will likely be price-gouging and inflated shipping costs. If they put up with those unfortunate occurrences, then they can happily play Xbox One games.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Internet: We’re Doing It Wrong – This week Facebook’s ban-bot went berserk; Github went down; and all Google services collapsed for a few minutes, taking 40% of the Internet with them. Just another week on the Internet, then. We love our centralized services, until they let us down.

Revisit the amazing Internet the cool kids used in 1997 – Watch this hilariously dated instructional video from an era when Netscape and “cyber” meant something and everything was just waiting to be “surfed.”

Funniest Reviews – Helpful product reviews written by Amazon customers are the heart of, and we treasure the customers who work hard to write them. But occasionally customer creativity goes off the charts in the best possible way. Enjoy this collection of some of the funniest, top-voted reviews written by your fellow customers. Is Like Ikea For Open Source Zealots – Furniture is probably the last thing on the mind of most open source proponents but now it doesn’t have to be. OpenDesk is a free, open source line of furniture that you can make yourself or order unassembled from a maker with a CNC machine. Not only is the furniture cheap – free if you have the wood and hardware – it’s actually cool-looking.

A Personalized Robot Companion for Older People – A highly customisable robot companion designed by EU-funded researchers to offer support to older people is currently being presented across Europe and could find its way into people’s homes within two or three years, potentially greatly enhancing quality of life for older citizens and people with memory or mobility problems.

Woz on ‘Jobs’: No, just no – In a review posted to Gizmodo, Steve Wozniak calls Ashton Kutcher “disingenuous” and believes the new movie is wildly inaccurate.

Church sings to members: Get off Facebook – One church decides it needs to create a song that tells its members to keep their business off of Facebook. This could go viral.

Something to think about:

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”

–    Thomas Paine

Today’s Free Downloads:

Magix Photo Designer – Magix Photo Designer bucks the trend of professional-grade photo software that is aimed at users with tons of computer knowledge. It’s incredibly easy to use, but gives enough features to satisfy even the toughest critics. It’s easily one of the most powerful photo-editing downloads you can find.

BhoScanner 2.1.6 – Discover browser helper objects of your computer including parasites and trojans.

Freebie Notes 3.55 – Freebie Notes is a great little program for users who just want sticky notes with an alarm timer.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

What they mean when the government says “We do not have ‘direct’ access to your info” – Summary: Even the best journalists and national security experts have difficulty with technical stories like the recent NSA revelations. Today Marcus Ranum (bio) cuts through the government’s lies, explaining the truth behind the NSA’s tapping vital telephone and email communication systems.

NSA Spying – EFF is leading the fight against the NSA’s illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works and what you can do.

We Should All Have Something To Hide – If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations. You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet. Police already abuse the immense power they have, but if everyone’s every action were being monitored, and everyone technically violates some obscure law at some time, then punishment becomes purely selective. Those in power will essentially have what they need to punish anyone they’d like, whenever they choose, as if there were no rules at all.

Bruce Schneier: The Public/Private Surveillance Partnership – The primary business model of the Internet is built on mass surveillance, and our government’s intelligence-gathering agencies have become addicted to that data. Understanding how we got here is critical to understanding how we undo the damage.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News