Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 13, 2013

Meet Darknet, the hidden, anonymous underbelly of the searchable Web – Some call it the Darknet. All call it hard to reach—though it’s hardly impregnable, given last week’s news of security vulnerabilities, as well as site takedowns following the arrest of an alleged pornographer. Like a demilitarized zone or a lawless land, it’s not a place most people visit—nor should they. But by the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll know more about this shadowy, parallel online universe than Bing or Yahoo ever will.

CheapCast turns any Android device into a Chromecast receiver – If you’re one of the many who find themselves unable to order a Chromecast right now due to a lack of availability, one clever developer has released an app that will give you a taste of the sweet life as long as you have an Android device.

PirateBrowser Beats Blockades, Doesn’t Make You Invisible to NSA – The Pirate Bay just released their own browser imaginatively named the PirateBrowser. But if you’re looking to do more than access the infamous Torrent tracker, look elsewhere.

7 great Android apps for notes and tasks – Organize your life with one of these incredibly useful Android applications for keeping track of notes, tasks, and to-do lists.

Use your iPhone to store your keys in the cloud – There’s few things worse that losing your keys or getting locked out of a building. A New York City startup aims to solve this problem with a digital photo of your keys stored in the cloud.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Drive Now Lets You Spellcheck Entire Documents At Once, Adds Customizable Lists – We haven’t seen any groundbreaking updates to Google Drive’s productivity tools lately, but the company continues to regularly make small improvements to them. Today, it’s adding a new spell check mode and more customizable numbered and bulleted lists for those “who love structure.”

Lenovo’s Reach cloud service aims to replace local apps – After offering a closed beta for a few months, Lenovo has opened for public preview its Reach consumer cloud service, which is a “cloud-desktop” service through which applications can be launched without downloading and installing them locally on mobile devices and PCs. The service functions almost like a virtual desktop but is geared for the cloud, with Web services like Netflix and Hulu Plus running through a hosted interface.

Use the Target Cartwheel app for extra in-store savings – Ready to save more money when you shop at your local Target store? Check out its Cartwheel app, which makes selecting offers and saving money a breeze.

Infographic: Mobilizing your sales org – This animated infographic, put together by Mutual Mobile, shows how tablets should be used as sales tools to benefit a company’s sales force.

How to self-destruct on Twitter – Golfer Lee Westwood apologizes after a series of hissing tweets at pesterers. Days before, famous porn professor and male feminist Hugo Schwyzer uses Twitter to admit he’s a fraud. Why on Twitter?

Microsoft tweaks Windows 8.1 again to help new users – Although most of the big changes in Windows 8.1 were announced in June, Microsoft is making a few more adjustments before shipping the update to users. The changes appear in a leaked build, Build 9471, of the near-final version of Windows 8.1, as tested by The Verge. Along with the return of the Start button, better built-in apps, and more options within the modern-style interface, the changes should smooth out the learning curve of Windows 8.

Skype update brings 720p video to Retina-display iOS devices – The latest Skype update has arrived in the iOS App Store and this one has a focus on video calling. Specifically, those sporting an iPhone 5 or fourth-generation iPad will now be able to make 720p HD quality video calls. While the 720p video is limited to the Retina-display devices, that is not where this update has stopped.


Hackers put a bull’s-eye on small business – The flimsier your IT resources, the better target you are for cybercrime. Learn about this growing wave—and how to protect your business. You’ve got a 20 percent chance of being hacked, and if it happens there’s a good chance your business is finished.

XP’s retirement will be hacker heaven – Cyber criminals will bank their Windows XP zero-day vulnerabilities until after Microsoft stops patching the aged operating system next April, a security expert argued today.

New Attack Leverages Mobile Ad Network to Deliver Android Malware – Researchers at Palo Alto Networks have uncovered a new malware strain that is being installed with legitimate Android apps and then connecting back to mobile ad networks in the background as part of a scheme to wring money from its victims.

Google Reveals the 10 Worst Password Ideas – Recently, Google Apps conducted a study of 2,000 people to learn more about their methods for choosing account passwords. The research revealed a worrying fact: Most people choose passwords based on readily available information. This means a surprising number of accounts can be hacked using a few simple, educated guesses.

Hacker pleads not guilty to stealing 160M credit cards – Dmitriy Smilianets was allegedly involved in the biggest hacking scheme ever prosecuted in the U.S., which cost Heartland, 7-Eleven, JetBlue, and others more than $300 million.

Google bumps up security bounties for Chromium – Three years after it began its bounty program, Google has paid out more than $2 million to security researchers, and closed 2,000 security-related bug reports related to its Chromium browser and web applications.

Company News:

BlackBerry officially seeking “strategic alternatives”, may go private after all – It was rumored a few days ago that BlackBerry was pondering the idea of going private, which led to a lot of chatter about what the company could be up to. However, BlackBerry has officially come out and confirmed that they’re pursuing “strategic alternatives,” although the company said that nothing is set in stone just yet.

ZTE to flog Firefox OS mobe worldwide via eBay – Unlocked, low-powered, and dirt cheap – Chinese mobile maker ZTE has announced plans to sell a smartphone running the Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox OS worldwide via online auction site eBay. The company said the orange-colored version of the ZTE Open would go on sale “soon” for $79.99 on eBay’s US site and £59.99 in the UK, though no specific date was given.

Salesforce asks devs to cough 800% more for security review – has hiked the security fees for software authors posting apps on its AppExchange – by an eyewatering $2,400 a pop. From 1 September, you’ll pay $2,700 for each paid app to undergo an obligatory security review before it appears on Salesforce’s AppExchange. The old price was $300.

From The Founders of .Co, Pop.Co Is A Fast, Simple Way To Launch Businesses Online – The company behind the .co domain has been working to associate .co websites with startups and innovation. Now its founders are trying to make it as easy as possible to start a business online with a new company called Basically, is a bundle of online services that should remove any barrier between coming up with a cool idea and building a web presence around that idea.

Facebook acquires Mobile Technologies, maker of Jibbigo translation app – Facebook has acquired the company behind language translation app Jibbigo, Mobile Technologies, with the social network’s Tom Stocky having first announced the news on his Facebook page. The acquisition scored the social network both Mobile Technologies’ employees and its technologies, both of which will be heading to Menlo Park.

Games and Entertainment:

Another Xbox 180: Always-on Kinect no longer mandatory – In what is hilarious, though completely expected news (by now), Microsoft has pulled yet another Xbox 180: the mandatory, always plugged-in Kinect is no longer mandatory. You can shove that thing in a drawer if you want, and never feel weird when you aren’t wearing pants in your living room like we all know you do.

New Social Game for Google Glass Casts Players as Scavenging Ants – The developers of Swarm say their social scavenger hunt could “provide a glimpse not only of the future of social gaming, but perhaps the future of social organization itself.

Xbox One controller to gain PC compatibility next year says Microsoft – Microsoft has posted a video showing off the new Xbox One controller, detailing the changes that have been made to it and design differences gamers will find over the Xbox 360 controller. In addition to the video detailing the design changes, a spokesperson for the company discussed PC support with the controller to the folks over at Penny Arcade.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Google Maps time-lapse shows how rivers move over time – This set of images spans from 1984 to 2012, and makes it very clear that a river can change its path not only over the course of 28 years, but in just a few months when given the right conditions. Rivers, of course, are one of the most unpredictable and rapidly changing parts of the planet given how they are affected not just by slow-moving forces, like erosion, but also near-instantaneous ones, like flooding and upstream snow melts, which can causes banks to expand and shift from their current course.

Watch Ashton Kutcher Blow Kids’ Minds With Steve Jobs Quotes In “Smart Is Sexy” Speech – “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart. And being thoughtful. And being generous. Everything else is crap!” Ashton Kutcher passionately shouted advice at Nickelodeon viewers as he accepted a Teen Choice Award last night. Most spend award speeches thanking people yet Kutcher seemed hell-bent on enlightening kids with Steve Jobs’ philosophy “Build a life. Don’t live one!

See human anatomy in 3D with Zygote Body – Zygote Body (free) is an amazing 3D simulation of the human body, complete with every layer, organ, and vessel. Using your keyboard or mouse, you can slowly peel away or add the different parts of the human body, and learn more about them by searching for an organ or clicking the one you’re interested in. Even if you don’t study science, Zygote Body is an excellent way to get the bigger picture of the human body.

Aaron Swartz secret service documents released in 104-page batch – The beginning of 2013 was marked with the unfortunate suicide of Aaron Swartz, an action said to be the result of legal pressure from MIT and the Department of Justice following his hacking of the JSTOR academic journal system. In March, it was promised that MIT would release documents related to the case. It has been six months, and now the Secret Service has released the first 104 of a massive 14,500 pages.

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Explained: A Technically Possible Sci-Fi Dream He’s Too Busy To Work On Right Now – Elon Musk, the extravagant entrepreneur know for his futurey projects, has explained his Hyperloop project to Businessweek’s Ashlee Vance ahead of publishing his blog post and holding his press conference today. It’s an ambitious project that borders on the crazy. This is the guy who built Tesla Motors and SpaceX, but he actually says he regrets bringing Hyperloop up to begin with and says it’s up to someone else to build it.

Something to think about:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

–   Martin Luther King Jr.

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinISO – WinISO is a CD-ROM image file utility that can process almost all CD/DVD/Blu-ray Disc image files, including ISO and BIN. It has the ability to open an image file, display the file tree, and then run files from within the image file. This is useful when viewing files, or running programs

Recuva Portable 1.48.980 – Recuva (pronounced “recover”) is a freeware Windows utility to restore files that have been accidentally deleted from your computer. This includes files emptied from the Recycle bin as well as images and other files that have been deleted by user error from digital camera memory cards or MP3 players. It will even bring back files that have been deleted by bugs, crashes and viruses! This is the no installer, portable version. Extract it, copy to your portable device and run, delete when done.

SmartPower 1.5.3 – SmartPower is a Windows service that saves energy (and money) by hibernating and resuming your Windows PC according to configurable rules. SmartPower is particularly suited to Windows Home Servers, torrent/download boxes and HTPCs.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Losing Momentum:

Internet launch ‘made in Germany’ email in response to PRISM – Customers currently using Deutsche Telekom’s email service T-Online or United Internet’s GMX and services will have SSL encryption turned on by default, and data from messages sent between these three services will be processed and stored exclusively on servers in Germany.

Six ways to protect yourself from the NSA and other eavesdroppers – Yes, you have many options for protecting your privacy on the Internet. But are these measures worth the time and sacrifice required? That’s up to you.

NSA: Problem is the secrecy, not the program – Did everyone in Congress and the security community honestly believe that such a huge program could remain secret forever? Then why even go down that road? The obvious answer is: they were afraid that if the American people knew about it we wouldn’t let us do it. Well, there’s a price to be paid for living in a democracy.

Snowden, Manning not whistleblowers: Australian attorney-general – In a broad speech to the Security in Government conference in Canberra defending the Australian government’s use of telecommunications interception powers for investigating crime, the attorney-general said that disclosures by Manning and the more recent leaks from Snowden about the National Security Agency’s interception program known as PRISM could cause “long-lasting harm” to Australia’s ability to “identify and respond to the many threats our nation faces”.

Codefellas EP1: When Topple met Winters (video 2:43) – 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.


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