Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 8, 2013

If Bruce Schneier ran the NSA, he’d ask a basic question: “Does it do any good? – The way Schneier sees it, in an attempt to keep the operational details of the targets secret, the NSA (and presumably other intelligence agencies, too) has also claimed that it also needs to keep secret the legal justification for what it’s doing. “That’s bullshit,” Schneier says. The famed computer scientist wants to apply traditionally open and public scrutiny to how the NSA operates.

Cyberscare: Ex-NSA chief calls transparency groups, hackers next terrorists – The cyberscare, like the redscare or the greenscare of the ’90′s, is already under way. On Tuesday, former NSA chief Michael Hayden put it into words. Hayden warned that hackers, cyberactivists and transparency groups who might act in support of NSA leaker Edward Snowden could target the U.S. government — equating such groups and individuals to al-Qaida terrorists. It was under Hayden’s directorship that NSA programs designed to hoard data and metadata on almost every online and phone communication within and going out of the U.S. were developed. His comments reflect the government’s troubling attitude towards online and open-data activists: they are prefiguratively framed as criminals and terrorists, and are treated as such.

Android Device Manager goes live for rogue phones and tablets – Google’s Android Device Manager has gone live, offering smartphone users a way to remotely track their phone or tablet, as well as secure it if it’s lost or stolen. The free service, unveiled last Friday, supports multiple Android devices per account, showing where they are, when they were last used, and – if factory reset has been enabled on the device itself – even lets them be remotely wiped.

Holho makes your tablet a video hologram projector – Make like Princess Leia and generate holograms with Holho, a Kickstarter project brings a hologram optical illusion to any tablet or smartphone.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Facebook launches Graph Search, acknowledges privacy concerns – Graph Search provides a way for users to search for various topics and interests across the site based on their connections and friends. Graph Search lets users submit their queries in plain English, so people can search for things like, “Friends who live in my city,” or “Hotels in San Francisco visited by my friends,” or even, “Music liked by people who like the music that I like,” Facebook notes.

Who’s buying and building new PCs? Gamers, that’s who – Gamers are bucking the trend. While everyone else is shunning the PC in favor of smartphones and tablets, gamers are still buying and building new PCs to meet the demands of modern games.

Instagram 4.1 adds video imports, photo straightening, more – Instagram 4.1 builds on the video functionality introduced back in June by allowing users to open, edit, and share footage taken with their phone’s native camera (or, indeed, another third-party app), including trimming them down to meet the fifteen second limit.

Why I’m using my smartphone less and less every day – When smartphones first appeared I happily did everything with mine. Surfing the web on the phone was a heady experience, along with lots of other activities. Then something changed, at least for me.

How to Extend Your Wi-Fi Network With an Old Router – When you upgrade to a faster, better router, don’t toss your old one. Whether through stock or custom firmware, you can likely turn it into a repeater that can carry your Wi-Fi’s signal to the dark corners of your home.

10 puzzle games that will bend your brain – Puzzles are ingenious sources of entertainment that never grow old. And computer-based puzzles can deliver mental challenges that the physical kind—from the old-fashioned cardboard cutouts to the plastic Rubik’s Cube—simply can’t duplicate. We’ve collected 10 of our favorite puzzlers here, starting with one that allows you to manipulate time and twist dimensions.

China has a massive Windows XP problem – The Chinese are going to have a very, very hard time kicking the Windows XP habit before support for the aging operating system ends next April.

How to Turn an Old iPod Into a Recovery Drive for Your Mac – If you have an old iPod sitting around collecting dust, you might as well get some use out of it. One way to do that is to turn it into a bootable drive where you can troubleshoot, test out other operating systems, or just run a few quick programs in another OS without wasting space on your hard drive. Here’s how to do it.


Google Chrome policy exposes user passwords on purpose: Here’s how to prevent it – Google is taking some serious heat for the way Chrome can reveal all your saved passwords to anyone—anyone!—with access to your computer. Yet Google has defended the move, with Chrome’s security tech lead arguing that further password protection measures would only provide a “false sense of security.”

Fort Disco: The new brute-force botnet – Already 25,000 PCs strong, a new Windows-powered botnet is growing steadily and cracking into PHP-based blog and content management system Web sites.

“Hand of Thief” banking Trojan doesn’t do Windows—but it does Linux – Hand of Thief, which was recently discovered by researchers from security firm RSA, sells for about $2,000 in underground Internet forums and boasts its own support and sales agents. Its functionality—consisting of form grabbers and backdoor capabilities—is rudimentary compared to Windows banking trojans spawned from the Citadel or Blackhole exploit kits, but that’s likely to change.

Researchers create DIY IDS for identifying hacked smartphones – A group of researchers from LMG Security has leveraged a Verizon Samsung femtocell – a small cellular station for extending cell phone coverage range indoors or at the cell edge – to create a relatively cheap cellular intrusion detection system that enables enterprises and private individuals to test their or their employees’ smartphones for malware.

Corporate espionage or fearmongering? The facts about hardware-level backdoors – Spying accusations against Chinese companies like Huawei have resulted in bans by US, UK, and Australian government agencies. Is there any technical merit to these charges?

Company News:

Intel launches Android-powered Education Tablets in 7-inch, 10-inch sizes – The new devices run on Atom chips, include customized educational software, and offer a number of learning accessories.

Bebo—yes, Bebo—announces triumphant return with cocky relaunch video – When Bebo founder Michael Birch paid $1 million to buy back the social network he sold to AOL in 2008 for $850 million, skeptics rolled their eyes. But Birch has big plans for Bebo, which was more famous for its ridiculous quizzes and juvenile whiteboard drawings than serious social networking.

Ubuntu Edge Gets Its First Major Corporate Backer In Bloomberg, But Funding Still Off Needed Pace – Bloomberg LP has come forward as its first major corporate backer, with a lump $80,000 contribution in exchange for 100 Ubuntu Edge devices and enterprise workshops and technical support.

Windows Phone shipments surge 77 percent in second quarter – Global shipments of smartphones running Microsoft’s mobile OS jumped more than 77 percent, says research firm IDC.

Oculus hires Doom and Quake creator John Carmack as CTO – Oculus just dropped a bombshell on every single gamer enthusiast in the world. Game developer legend John Carmack will be joining the team behind the Oculus Rift as the company’s chief technology officer. We’ve known that Carmack has shown interest in the new VR headset in the past, but the move to Oculus is a bit of a welcome surprise.

Groupon shares jump 20 percent on record quarter, new CEO – Shares soar after troubled daily-deals site announces 7 percent jump in revenue and installs Eric Lefkofsky as permanent chief.

Feedly raises $500,000 in 8 hours selling RSS reader subscriptions – Two days ago, Feedly kicked off a paid version of its RSS service by offering $99.99 lifetime subscriptions to the first 5,000 customers. Later in the day, Edwin Khodabakchian, CEO and co-founder of DevHD — the company behind Feedly—said that the 5,000 accounts had been snapped up in eight hours. The total to Feedly: almost $500,000.

Games and Entertainment:

Sine Mora Arrives on Android, is Frustratingly Good – There is a sub-genre of side-scrolling shooters affectionately referred to as “bullet hell shooters.” This indicates much of your time will be spent dodging incoming fire, just hoping some of your return rounds find the mark and open up some breathing room. Sine Mora is such a game, and it has just arrived on Android after shooting up XBLA and iOS.

Review: Mario and Luigi: Dream Team for Nintendo 3DS – If there is such a thing as a great starter RPG for younger audiences that is also enjoyable for advanced players, Mario and Luigi: Dream Team comes closer than any game before it.

NVIDIA SHIELD open source software release calls out walled garden competition – As spoken of early on in the initial announcements of NVIDIA’s gaming handheld SHIELD, the company has made good on their promise to allow full software modification and hacking with the release of open source downloads this week. What this actually means is that NVIDIA is making it rather easy for the development community as well as the hacker community (which to be fair, for Android, are often one in the same) to do their thing.

Time Warner Cable blackout causes CBS-related piracy to spike – Late last month, a failure to negotiate fees between Time Warner Cable and CBS resulted in the first company dropping the latter one from its service in many markets, causing about 3 million people to lose access to the network. Although a truce was offered earlier this month, the spat continues, and in its wake leaves a long trail of spiked piracy rates.

Wii U “hardware limitations” count console out for Bethesda games – Nintendo shouldn’t hope for any Wii U love from games publisher Bethesda, with the company blaming hardware limitations for its decision not to include the console on its roadmap. “In our near term focus it’s not on our radar” Bethesda VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines told Joystiq recently, describing the decision as “largely a hardware thing.”

Off Topic (Sort of):

Man has Amazon package stolen, goes nuclear for justice – Tim Lake happens to have a video surveillance system at his house. So when he saw a woman allegedly steal an Amazon package, he created a campaign to shame her.

Outcry after restaurant Facebook-shames kids for making a mess – A restaurant owner posts a picture of the mess made by toddlers, accompanied by a few sarcastic words. But the kids’ moms fight back and the owner now says she’s sorry.



Electric road charges buses while they drive – South Korea has launched the world’s first road-powered electric vehicle network to charge public buses while they’re on the move.

Advocacy Group Questions the Benefit of Mobile Apps for Toddlers – Can a mobile app really teach a baby to find her nose? Or learn to recognize letters and numbers? Not according to an advocacy group that filed a complaint Wednesday with the FTC.

Videos detail the microscopic horror of a mosquito bite – Ever wondered what actually happens when a pesky little mosquito jabs its proboscis into your flesh? A group of French scientists decided to use a microscope to get a disgustingly detailed look.

Something to think about:

Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice.”

–     George Jackson

Today’s Free Downloads:

SnapPea – Organize your contacts, music, and pics from the comfort of your desktop. Transfer any file in the blink of an eye. Download thousands of apps for your Android, instant and free of charge. Apps download to the desktop, so you no longer need to worry about your mobile data plan. Send text messages from a full-size keyboard, without touching your phone. It’s like magic. Importing your iTunes library to your Android is just a click away. Don’t leave home without your music ever again.

NoScript – The NoScript Firefox extension provides extra protection for Firefox, Flock, Seamonkey and others mozilla-based browsers: this free, open source add-on allows JavaScript and Java execution only for trusted domains of your choice (e.g. your home-banking web site). NoScript’s unique whitelist based pre-emptive script blocking approach prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known and even not known yet!) with no loss of functionality. You can enable JavaScript/Java execution for sites you trust with a simple left-click on the NoScript status bar icon (look at the picture), or using the contextual menu, for easier operation in popup statusbar-less windows.

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