Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 7, 2013

German Minister calls for punishment of US companies involved in NSA spying – A few days ago they symbolically called off the Cold War-era surveillance pact with the US and Britain, and now German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is calling for EU-wide punitive measures to be introduced for corporations that have been found participating in the US spying activities.

Surveillance scandal rips through hacker community– The good ol’ days of chummy games of “Spot the Fed” at Defcon are finished as hackers and security entrepreneurs plan next steps in the wake of government spying revelations.

How Obama Can Say “We Don’t Have A Domestic Spying Program” Without Lying – President Obama found himself defending the practices of the National Security Agency to comedian Jay Leno Show last night. “We don’t have a domestic spying program,” said the Commander-in-Chief. “What we do have is some mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack. That information is useful.” If Obama’s denial sounds suspicious, it’s because he’s playing semantics. (Obama – domestic (and international) spying – a comedy show – intellectually perfect! And, a reasonably accurate reflection of American politics.)

Top Ten Scariest Things We Saw At Black Hat – Black Hat isn’t for the faint of heart. The security (and insecurity) revelations exposed in the briefings can be utterly alarming. Here are our top ten hair-raising moments from the conference.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Five free DVD authoring tools – Five free DVD authoring tools that are not only spot on for your spending limit, buy they are also fairly easy to use. But will any of them meet your specific needs? Let’s dive into the world of DVD authoring and find out. Remember, these aren’t editors; you’ll need your completed clips ready to use. If you need a free video editor, look no further than OpenShot. With your video in hand, let’s author some DVDs.

Geek 101: How to make GIFs as easily as possible – Like some kind of terrible blast from the user-made AOL pages of yore, animated GIFs have made a huge comeback. If you want to get in on the craze, it takes a little bit of work, but nothing these instructions can’t help you overcome.

Back to School: Get Free Digital Textbooks from Boundless – Boundless turns open-source education content into free textbooks that serve as alternatives to textbooks from big-name publishers.

New Nexus 7? Here Are 25 Great-Looking Android Tablet Apps – In the interest of positive reinforcement, here are 25 apps that look terrific on the Nexus 7, making full use of the 7-inch display. Oh, and just to be clear, we’re not going to include games (because they all generally look fine on tablets) and Google apps like Chrome and Drive, which are pre-loaded on the Nexus 7.

Firefox 23 lands with a new logo and mixed content blocking – Firefox 23, released today, contains the usual mix of security work, standards conformance improvements, and minor bug fixes that we’ve come to expect from the regular browser releases. On top of these, it sports a trio of changes that you might actually notice.

Xerox scanners found to sometimes alter numbers – Xerox scanners have been found to randomly alter numbers on documents when reproducing them if a certain combination of image quality and compression setting is used. On Tuesday, Xerox acknowledged the problem and advised customers to use a higher quality scanner setting if it wanted to avoid the problem.

Quick Tip: Switch between application windows quickly – Chances are good that you already know that if you have multiple windows in a certain application open at the same time; you can hover over the icon on the taskbar and use the Live Thumbnails feature to see each window. However, there’s another quicker way to switch between windows of a specific application.

Why is THAT in my News Feed? Facebook explains – Notice older stories popping up on your News Feed? Or, seeing more posts from one friend rather than another? It’s all part of Facebook’s top-secret ranking system.

Google revamps search to feature in-depth articles – Want to know more about censorship, love, or legos? The Web giant reworks its search feature to display more comprehensive articles, papers, and blog posts alongside its quick answer listings.

Twitter rolls out two-factor authentication that’s simpler, more secure – Twitter has unveiled a new login verification feature that largely replaces the two-factor authentication system it rolled out in May to prevent a rash of password phishing attacks hitting its users.

Using an emergency virtual machine on a disk-based backup system – When a server problem required a complete machine restore, the first stage was to run an emergency copy of the server on a local disk-based backup system. Mark Pimperton describes what happened.


Infographic: Where Are You Most at Risk for Identity Theft? – If you’re not afraid of identity theft, you might want to be. With the amount of information on you both off and online, it’s easier for hackers to get a hold of sensitive data.

Advice on Tor use in wake of Freedom Hosting compromise – In the wake of the discovery that someone has compromised Tor hidden services hosted by Freedom Hosting and injected malicious JavaScript aimed at de-anonymizing specific users, the Tor Project has advised Tor users to keep their Tor Browser Bundle (TBB) updated, switch away from Windows, and disable JavaScript.

Backdoor in popular ad-serving software opens websites to remote hijacking undetected for 8 months – If you installed the OpenX ad server in the past nine months, there’s a chance hackers have a backdoor that gives them administrative control over your Web server, in many cases including passwords stored in databases, security researchers warned. Coca-Cola, Bloomberg, Samsung, CBS Interactive, and eHarmony are just a small sampling of companies the OpenX website lists as customers.

How do you stop HTTPS-defeating BREACH attacks? Let us count the ways – Last week, when Ars first reported a new hack attack that plucks e-mail addresses and certain types of security credentials out of encrypted pages, we warned the fixes wouldn’t be easy. Sure enough, Web app developers responding to the attack known as BREACH have begun proposing mitigations that are awkward, if not down-right unpleasant.

Crysis creators Crytek homepages hacked, users asked to change logins – The development team behind the Crysis game family Crytek have suffered what appears to be a malicious attack – or at least “suspicious activity” – in the servers of several of their hero title websites. The developers from Crytek have taken down,,, and, making sure to mention that,, and have been unaffected.

Attackers are taking advantage of old vulnerabilities – FortiGuard Labs observed a 30 percent increase in mobile malware in the labs over the last six months. The team is now seeing more than 1,300 new samples per day, is currently tracking over 300 unique Android malware families and over 250,000 unique malicious Android samples.

Digital stakeout of Chinese hacker gang reveals 100+ victims – A Chinese hacker gang whose malware targeted RSA in 2011 infiltrated more than 100 companies and organizations, and even probed a major teleconference developer to find new ways to spy on corporations.

Jimmy Wales says David Cameron’s porn filters are ‘ridiculous’ – Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, a key technology adviser to prime minister David Cameron, has slammed the government’s demand that ISPs should introduce porn filters by default, saying the move is “ridiculous”. Wales advises the government on open access to information online. He told Channel 4 News: “When Cameron uses the example of pedophiles who are addicted to internet porn, all that these plans would do is require them to opt in [to access legal porn]”. “It’s an absolutely ridiculous idea that won’t work.”

Company News:

Mobile startup offers unprecedented plan: 500MB of data, free incoming calls – A Canadian startup, TextNow, just launched a new mobile service in the United States. For $18.99 per month, you get 500MB of data, 750 rollover minutes, and unlimited texting and incoming calls. In the US, it’s the norm for both the sending and receiving parties to be charged for a call. But nearly everywhere else in the world, only the person who originated the call actually pays. But you have to buy one of two older Android phones for now.

WhatsApp passes 300M active users, adds voice messaging – The hit app has added 50 million active users in less than two months and now processes 31 billion messages on a daily basis, the developer says.

IBM plans furloughs for some employees – IBM has told U.S. employees and executives in two of its business units that they will be furloughed for one week in late August. Affected employees will receive the equivalent of one-third pay, but executives will not be paid.

Infographic: Apple’s Manufacturing Pipeline, Explained – Apple and other U.S. tech giants have “reshored” some product assembly to the States, but the advantages of utilizing China-based contract manufacturers remain enormous.

Games and Entertainment:

Watch 20 minutes of The Elder Scrolls Online gameplay – QuakeCon 2013 wasn’t just a gathering of gamers eager to listen to John Carmack talk about next-gen consoles or discussions about what’s happening with Doom 4 development. id Software’s parent company Zenimax used the event to show off the first MMO in The Elder Scrolls series of games, entitled The Elder Scrolls Online.

Apple rejects satire app Joyful Executions – In an expected move from the iOS gatekeepers, iPhone users won’t get a chance to play the game which puts a satirical twist on North Korean propaganda due to its “excessively objectionable content.”

Ender’s Game trailer wrap-up: a new vision for a sci-fi classic – This trailer shows many of the key elements involved in telling the Ender’s Game story, aiming to entice both those new to this story environment and those that are fans of the original novel. Here Harrison Ford narrates and stars as one of many guides for Ender as the tale of youngsters battling aliens unfolds.

Oculus Rift and NASA bring virtual reality to Mars with new simulator – NASA’s Curiosity rover is currently putzing around on the surface of Mars, and we’ve seen plenty of pictures to know what the red planet looks like. However, a new simulator that NASA put together using an Oculus Rift VR headset and a Virtuix Omni VR treadmill, you’ll now be able to know what it’s like to walk around on Mars.

A quick and dirty look at the Nvidia Shield’s PC game streaming – We gave the Nvidia Shield’s PC game streaming capabilities a quick test run with a couple of Steam games that work great with a gamepad. Here’s how it went.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Edward Snowden offered $100K tweeting job – offers the whistleblower $100,000 to tweet on its behalf. One stipulation is he mustn’t leak classified information.

Man ordered to pay panhandler $8,000 for discrimination – An email sent to the manager of a Montreal liquor store described a panhandler outside the store as an overweight drunk. An email sent to the manager of a Montreal liquor store described a panhandler outside the store as an overweight drunk. A Montreal man has been ordered to pay $8,000 to a panhandler after an email he wrote complaining about her presence outside a liquor store was deemed discriminatory by the province’s human rights commission. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Oversight: Crowdsourcing the NSA’s surveillance programs – Imagine that the NSA and the U.K.’s GCHQ opened their databases and tools to public volunteers to aid them in the search for terrorists. Tom Scott, who is described as a British geek comedian, programmer, and presenter, produced a video, “Oversight: Thank you for volunteering, citizen,” that imagines ordinary citizens accessing the databases of everything about everyone to assist governments in their surveillance activities.

With Tynker’s New Service, Kids Can Learn To Code At Home – Mountain View-based Tynker, a startup focused on teaching children of all ages the basics of learning how to code, is now expanding its service beyond schools with today’s debut of Tynker for Home. This new system is similar to the platform targeting teacher and classrooms which launched earlier this year.

High-tech ice cream is nerdalicious – Technology is changing the way ice cream can be made. One San Francisco shop whips up your order while you wait. Sumi Das shows us the special machine and technique that turns the ingredients from liquid to scoop in about a minute.

For the brain, practice makes efficiency, not perfection – The brain isn’t a static piece of hardware like a computer. If it needs to do something repeatedly, it’s able to remodel itself in order to cope with the cognitive demands. Past studies have indicated London cab drivers see an expansion of the area of the brain that’s involved in spatial reasoning, while professional musicians see an expansion of the area of the brain that provides control over their muscle actions.

Something to think about:

When the water reaches the upper level, follow the rats.”

–    Claude Swanson

Today’s Free Downloads:

FileZilla 3.7.2 – FileZilla is a fast and reliable FTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface.

Dictionary .NET 6.1.4966 – A tiny, easy and smart multilingual dictionary translating from/to 52 languages using Google´s services.

AVG Rescue CD (for CD creation) – A powerful must-have toolkit to assist with the rescue and repair of infected machines.

AVG Rescue CD (for USB stick) – A powerful must-have toolkit to assist with the rescue and repair of infected machines. This download is for portable USB drives.



Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 7, 2013

  1. Laurence

    HI Bill,
    At BitsDuJour, they are giveaway Zemana AntiLogger 12 months license.

  2. Fred

    Hi Bill!
    “Firefox 23 lands with a new logo and mixed content blocking
    But the much-valued option to disable JavaScript has been hidden.”
    I am so glad I found your site, I updated Mozilla yesterday and the CONTENT section of OPTIONS, had only font and pop-up areas, NO PHOTOS, NO JAVA SCRIPT disabling. I thought it was a GLITCH, but thanks to you posting this article link, I found out it was by DESIGN. Now that is rotten.
    “Arguably on the other side of the security fence, Firefox 23 removes the ability to disable JavaScript in its preferences dialog. That’s not to say that Firefox 23 can’t disable JavaScript (the setting in about:config still exists and still works, and Firefox 24 will add a feature to the developer tools to disable JavaScript too), but the most easy and obvious way of disabling JavaScript is gone.

    The rationale for this change is that disabling JavaScript universally breaks too much of the Web. It’s not an option that should be turned on by accident or without understanding the (substantial) functionality repercussions, and as such, it’s not appropriate to show it to non-expert users.”
    WHY did the “FIX” something that wasn’t broken? Do you think they might return the java script disabling feature as well as the PHOTOS OFF option?

    “Mobile startup offers unprecedented plan: 500MB of data, free incoming calls – In the US, it’s the norm for both the sending and receiving parties to be charged for a call. But nearly everywhere else in the world, only the person who originated the call actually pays. ”
    Sad to say it, as a US Citizen, but this country sucks.
    “How Obama Can Say “We Don’t Have A Domestic Spying Program” Without Lying – (Obama – domestic (and international) spying – a comedy show – intellectually perfect! And, a reasonably accurate reflection of American politics.)”
    That is so true, and it is tough to watch, Bill, real tough.

    • Hi Fred,

      Mozilla’s idea of progress often leaves much to be desired. I won’t rehash some of the backward looking schemes let loose by Mozilla over the years – but, more than a few of my associates have dropped Firefox entirely. Change for the sake of change loses from the get-go.

      But, to the point – If you are not running with the Firefox extension NoScript, then you need to be. Running with NoScript makes Mozilla’s crazy move a non-issue.

      From the site – “Winner of the “PC World World Class Award”, this tool gives you with the best available protection on the web.
      It allows JavaScript, Java and other executable content to run only from trusted domains of your choice, e.g. your home-banking web site, guarding your “trust boundaries” against cross-site scripting attacks (XSS), cross-zone DNS rebinding / CSRF attacks (router hacking), and Clickjacking attempts, thanks to its unique ClearClick technology. It also implements the DoNotTrack tracking opt-out proposal by default, see .
      Such a preemptive approach prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known and even unknown!) with no loss of functionality…
      Experts do agree: Firefox is really safer with NoScript ;-)”

      Without a doubt, NoScript is a must have extension.

      Hope this helps.