Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 5, 2013

State surveillance may be a fact of modern life, but having ‘nothing to hide’ is not an excuse for apathy – State surveillance is not new, but today fights against terrorism. Many are against government spying, while some are apathetic. But even if you believe you have ‘nothing to hide,’ your government may still think you do. And proving otherwise could be impossible.

Are Police Monitoring ‘Pressure Cooker’ Google Searches? Nope – Police have thrown cold water on a report that law enforcement was dispatched to a private home after family members searched online for pressure cookers and backpacks. Seems like you should be more concerned about your searches at work than at home.

Codefellas EP1: When Topple met Winters – WIRED’s new animated series takes you inside the secretive world of a slightly askew NSA, with the eccentric Agent Topple, played by John Hodgman, and his young hacker protégé, Nicole Winters.

Finally! Google unveils Android Device Manager to protect your misplaced phone – Fears about rogue apps and mobile malware may snag all the headlines, but when it comes down to brass tacks, the odds of contracting a digital disease on your phone are pretty low as long as you stick to official app stores and don’t download things found in the darker corners of the Internet. A much more tangible risk ties into your phone’s physical nature. Simply put: If you lose it, you’re screwed.

Hidden Android feature allows users to fine tune app permissions – A feature that made it into version 4.3 of Android, but wasn’t announced by Google, now allows users to restrict specific permissions in apps, rather than take an all-or-nothing approach when choosing to install.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

SD card slot makes the Media Drive a new type of Wi-Fi storage expander – Looking to carry some extra content on the go, share hot-spot access, and preview your freshly taken photos or video? The SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Drive is your best pal.

Where have all the good browsers gone? – It’s frustrating to deal with the constant threat of browser-based malware, pop-ups, and extensions gone wild. I wonder where all the good browsers have gone? It would be nice to have one that works.

7 browser tricks to get the most out of your Chromecast – Unlocking the true potential of your Chromecast, however, requires a little ingenuity and some deep digging into the Chrome browser’s Cast extension. With these hints, tips, and secrets for Chromecast, you’ll be able to improve streaming video performance, mirror your entire PC screen, display locally stored files, and more. Not bad for a device the price of a few pizzas!

Six ways to use virtualization in your small business – Virtualization. The word evokes complex, pricey technologies beyond the grasp of all but the biggest enterprises. But virtualization offers many benefits for small businesses, including cost savings and IT efficiency. And options such as Oracle’s VirtualBox and VMware Workstation have put the technology within reach of small business budgets. Here are some suggestions for how you can leverage the power of virtualization in your small business.

Start Menu Reviver – How you’ll like Start Menu Reviver largely depends on what you want out of a Windows 8 Start Menu. If you want something that mimics the Windows 7 Start Menu exactly, you’re better off with Stardock’s Start8 or Iobit’s Start Menu 8. If you want something that’s more of a melding of Windows 8 and a start menu, Start Menu Reviver might be what you seek.

Chrome threatens Firefox for the No. 2 browser spot – Mozilla’s Firefox browser has lost more than 11% of its user share in the last two months, giving Google’s Chrome another shot at replacing it as the world’s No. 2 browser, according to new data.

The 14 best Windows Store music and movie apps – Fortunately, although the Windows Store still lags in many crucial app categories, it pretty much has entertainment down pat. Sure, it would be nice if more big-name music services called Windows 8 home, but these 14 stellar music and movie apps can keep you rocking out and tuned in long into the night—especially if you’re into streaming services.

Twitter tightens abuse rules following UK backlash – After several public figures in the U.K. became the target of trolls, the social media site is changing policies to clamp down on abusive behavior.

Security:

Wi-Fi routers: More security risks than ever – The research team that discovered significant security holes in more than a dozen home Wi-Fi routers adds more devices to that list at Defcon 21.

Samsung Smart TV a spy in the living room as webcam hack revealed – Samsung has patched a smart TV bug that allowed hackers to remotely activate the integrated webcam and spy on viewers in their living rooms, as well as redirect the onboard browser to a compromised webpage. The security flaw, spotted by researchers at iSEC Partners, has been fixed with a firmware update pushed to affected sets, Samsung told CNN Money, but renews questions about the inherent safety of home appliances and the so-called “internet of things” as ubiquitous connectivity becomes commonplace.

Holy sh*t! Smart toilet hack attack! – Information security firm Trustwave has reported a potential cyber-attack vector to a device you may have never expected the phrase “security vulnerability” would be applied (other than in reference to the end of a toilet paper roll, that is). In an advisory issued August 1, Trustwave warned of a Bluetooth security vulnerability in Inax’s Satis automatic toilet.

Researchers reveal methods behind car hack at Defcon – Two security researchers at Defcon on Friday revealed the methods they used to hack into car computers and take over the steering, acceleration, breaks and other important functions.

Attackers turning to legit cloud services firms to plant malware – Researchers see significant growth in number of malware writers using services like Google Code, Dropbox to distribute their malicious wares.

Email security strongest from social media, report reveals – Email from social media brands is some of the safest on the Internet, while electronic posts from financial services brands is some of the riskiest, says a report released last week by an email security provider.

Company News:

Microsoft slashes $100 off the price of its Surface Pro tablet – This weekend, Microsoft discounted its Surface Pro by $100, with Microsoft telling The Verge that that the deal will last until August 29. This discount comes on the heels of a $900 million write-down on Surface RT inventory, revealed in Microsoft’s 2013 4Q financial report, and a subsequent reduction of Surface RT model pricing by 30 percent.

Obama overturns Apple iPad and iPhone sales ban – The Obama government has overturned the rapidly approaching US sales ban on Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPad 2, stepping in at the final moment to deny Samsung seeing its rival’s phones and tablets pulled from shelves. The decision, revealed in a letter from US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael B.G. Froman at the Executive Office of the President, means Apple has escaped seeing its older models barred from sale……

Apple: “Draconian” DoJ antitrust remedies are “wildly out of proportion” – The DoJ filed a list of remedies earlier today, including forcing Apple to allow rival ebook vendors such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble to include direct links to their own ebook stores from their apps, along with employing an “external monitor” – paid with Apple’s own dime – to police the Cupertino firm. Unsurprisingly, Apple believes the suggestions are “wildly out of proportion” to the anti-competition findings, which it still claims are false.

Qualcomm calls eight-core processors ‘dumb’ – “You can’t take eight lawnmower engines, put them together and now claim you have an eight-cylinder Ferrari. It just doesn’t make sense,” the company’s senior vice president Anand Chandrasekher said, according to a transcript of his comments to Taiwan media provided on Friday. The comments follow a launch by rival MediaTek of its new octa-core chip that it claims will offer better performance over competing processors.

Yahoo buys failed browser maker Rockmelt – Yahoo on Friday acquired Rockmelt, a company that tried to compete with Google, Microsoft and Mozilla in the cut-throat browser market, but failed. According to the Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsD blog, Yahoo paid between $60 million and $70 million for the Mountain View, Calif. company.

Games and Entertainment:

Six games that will look great on your Nexus 7 – Got yourself a new Nexus 7 tablet? These visually stunning games should put your device’s graphics capabilities to the test. Oh, and they’re fun to play, too.

Bethesda announces five game Elder Scrolls Anthology for PC – You’ll be able to purchase The Elder Scrolls Anthology on September 10 in the US and September 13 across Europe. There’s no details on availability or how limited of a run this collection will get, but if you intend on picking it up I wouldn’t wait too long after release day.

Why Watch Doctor Who? – If you’ve never investigated the 50-year-old TV show about a time traveler in a broken time machine, here’s what you need to know.

OUYA placates disgruntled gamers with download store credit – The runaway crowdsourcing success ran into shipping issues as it attempted to send out the final consoles ahead of general sales starting, leaving some backers waiting for their consoles; they, and anyone else who put money down on the original Kickstarter campaign but feels let down, can claim $13.37 of credit to buy games and other apps.

Edward Snowden cast as hero in smartphone game – The NSA leaker wanted by U.S. authorities stars in the mobile game Snowden Run 3D. In the endless runner, players must collect “sensitive information” while avoiding the long arm of the law.

Off Topic (Sort of):

12 months of NASA’s Curiosity rover in 2 minutes – The video is composed of 548 still images captured by a front-facing fisheye camera known as the Hazard-Avoidance Camera. The name should give you a pretty good idea what it’s for — NASA uses it to ensure there are no obstacles in Curiosity’s path that could catch on the underside of the rover. You can’t exactly walk out there and lift the rover off a rock when it’s on a different planet.

Genetic Adam and Eve may have walked on Earth at the same time – All scientific evidence points to the fact that if you go far enough back, all life on Earth is related through common ancestry. Turns out that applying the same sort of analysis shows that all humans alive today are descendants of one man and one woman who walked our planet thousands of years ago.

Simulating 1 second of real brain activity takes 40 minutes 83K processors – A team of Japanese and German researchers have carried out the largest-ever simulation of neural activity in the human brain, and the numbers are both amazing and humbling.

Cracked: 4 Criminals Instantly Repaid by Karma – In the broadest sense, criminals are bad people, as they go out of their way to make other people’s lives worse. But every once in a while, the criminals of the world receive karmic retribution for their misdeeds — and sometimes that karma is frighteningly instantaneous. Here are four times in recent history when the cosmic scales came crashing down mercilessly.

Bar Facebook-shames man over unpaid $100 tab; man jailed – A Reno bar is so frustrated that a customer allegedly left an unpaid tab that it posts his picture on Facebook and shames him publicly. He is then arrested.

Where do people get those terrible passwords? – Google surveyed 2000 web users to find the most common types of passwords they use. The results aren’t really shocking, but strongly suggest it would be really easy to hack into an account for anyone you know. That, and lots of people own pets. Here are the most common things people base their passwords on, according to the Google Apps survey.

Woman buys two iPhones for $1,300, gets only apples (really) – In perhaps the ultimate in mockery, an Australian woman buys two iPhones after posting an ad on a Web site. When she opens the boxes, they contain just one apple each.

Something to think about:

“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.”

–     Oscar Wilde

Today’s Free Downloads:

Cyberfox 64-Bit Web Browser 23.0.0 – Cyberfox 64-Bit Web Browser is a 64 bit browser based on Mozilla source code, compiled with Visual Studio using Windows 8 SDK.

FrostWire 5.6.3 – FrostWire is a peer-to-peer file sharing program for the Gnutella and BitTorrent protocols. FrostWire is written in Java, and is a fork of LimeWire, another popular Gnutella client. Released under the GNU General Public License, FrostWire is free software.

Shotcut 13.08.04 – Shotcut is a free, open source, cross-platform video editor.

Stellarium 0.12.2 – Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.

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