Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 15, 2013

Yes, Gmail Users Have Some Privacy. Here’s What You Can Expect – Google is in hot water after its lawyers were caught claiming that Gmail users have “no reasonable” expectations of privacy. The short answer is that yes, Gmail users do have some expectation of privacy and there have been no major privacy policy changes in the past year. But, since the press is freaking out, let us review what kind of privacy users can–and cannot–expect.

Learn which startup programs are safe to remove – The longer you run your computer, the more clutter it accumulates. To improve the situation, you can uninstall unwanted, unneeded programs. And if you’re a little more tech-savvy, you can venture into msconfig to prevent system-dragging software from running at startup. Ah, but which programs are safe to uninstall and/or block? Should I Remove It? is a free utility that helps you answer exactly that question. The program analyzes everything installed on your computer, then helps you determine what’s safe to remove.

Google adds voice recognition tools to Google Search – Need to quickly find your flight number as you’re heading to the airport? Or maybe you can’t remember where your friend said to meet her for dinner? No problem. Just ask Google. And there’s no need to type.

Hear ye, hear ye: Test the age of your ears on YouTube – AsapScience’s quick hearing-test video will tell you if you’re keeping up with the hearing level of your peer group or losing your abilities too quickly.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Confused about locked vs. unlocked phones? Ask Maggie explains – In this edition of her advice column, CNET’s Marguerite Reardon explains the differences between locked and unlocked phones and helps a reader figure out how to get an unlocked device. She also advises a reader looking to bring an unlocked Samsung GS4 to Virgin Mobile.

Geek 101: How to download YouTube videos – Every once in awhile there’s an overwhelming urge to download a video from YouTube. Maybe you wanted to make yourself a hilarious gif, or maybe you wanted to grab the video to watch while you are on a plane. Whatever the reason, you have to be careful how you go about downloading your YouTube videos. To help, we put together this quick tutorial.

The more you use Facebook, the more miserable you get – study – A disturbing piece of research from the University of Michigan intimates that increasing use of Facebook among young adults creates an increased lack of well-being.

OneStop is your first stop to video converting – Convert online videos instantly to your mobile devices with this easy-to-understand downloader tool. Streamlined and easy to use, OneStop Video Converter Pro is an all-around video downloader and converter tool. Clip Extractor, the company behind the popular Mega Video Converter, brings you a quick and dirty downloader compatible with most major sites.

Must-have software for college students – If you’re lucky enough to be a student in this golden age of tech, don’t miss these great finds. Most of them are free, and all of them are bound to make the start of the new school year smoother than the last.

Getting around Google+: A guide to the basics – In the two years it’s been around, Google+ has both grown and changed. Here’s everything you need to know to get started with today’s G+.

Flipboard for iOS app gains animated GIF support – Sometimes a well-selected GIF adds a little extra oomph to a story that disappears when using software that doesn’t support animated GIFs. Such has been the case for iOS users of Flipboard, the nifty personal magazine app that is available for both Android and iOS. This changes today, however, thanks to an update that has been released for users to nab.

Mosaizer Pro – Free graphics tools that can create photo mosaics aren’t scarce, even when filtered down to freeware. Mosaizer Pro by APP Helmond does that. But this free tool earns a spot even in the most well-stocked graphics toolkit by taking photo mosaics — pictures created out of many smaller pictures — to new levels. With it, you can “paint with pictures,” creating artistic images out of your own pictures using Mosaizer’s tools and vast library of free images, patterns, and textures.

The 5 best remote desktop apps for iPad – You can get actual work done with a the right apps on a touchscreen, but there are still times you need access to a desktop environment. However, you don’t have to put the iPad down to do that any more. In fact, there are plenty of remote desktop apps for the iPad, at least one of which will fulfill your needs for a mobile, touch-friendly remote desktop app.

Google Search Gets More Personal, Now Lets You Find Your Flight Info, Reservations, Photos And More – Google today announced a number of search features that make it easier for you to find your own personal information through Google Search. The search engine can now find information about your upcoming flights (“Is my flight on time?”), hotel or OpenTable reservations, package delivery information (“When will my package arrive?”), your purchases and what’s on your calendar.

Indians, Spurred By Adoption Of Low-Cost Feature-Phones, Download 2 Billion Apps From Nokia Store – The recent launch of cheap Nokia devices featuring the proprietary S40 and Asha operating systems, and deals with India’s four biggest mobile operators, have stimulated a growing appetite for apps and games on the subcontinent, where the majority of the population don’t use mobile internet or credit cards.

Security:

Baby-monitor hacker spies on and swears at sleeping 2-year-old – A hacker took over a baby monitor in a home in the US city of Houston, Texas, to spy on a 2-year-old girl, to broadcast obscenities at the child, to swivel the camera so as to watch her shocked parents as they came in, and to then call the parents insulting names. ABC News subsequently drove through a neighborhood with a baby monitor video receiver on the dashboard, picking up crystal-clear video feeds left and right. First they found Dominic, playing with his toes in his crib. Next they viewed 14-month old Tally, sleeping in her crib. They found a camera pointed at a bed in one neighborhood, and they viewed a woman making a bed in another.

Google confirms critical Android crypto flaw used in $5,700 Bitcoin heist – The disclosure, included in a blog post published Wednesday by Google security engineer Alex Klyubin, was the first official confirmation of the Android vulnerability since Ars and others reported the incident last weekend. Klyubin warned that other apps might also be compromised unless developers change the way they access so-called PRNGs, short for pseudo random number generators.

Once the province of Windows XP, Web servers are hackers’ target of choice – Apache and Joomla exploits are only the latest examples of the growing bullseye. In a pattern that has played out repeatedly over the past year or two, researchers in the past two days have reported a string of ongoing attacks that take control of Web servers by exploiting critical vulnerabilities in Apache software, Joomla, and other applications used to deliver content and programs online.

Company News:

Apple Vs. Samsung in America: Where Petty Patent Squabbles Meet Blatant Protectionism – Will the White House act like the adult in this whole sorry affair, and stand up for the trade principles it professes to hold dear?

Ad-Free Social Platform App.net Raises Another $2.5M From Andreessen Horowitz – App.net, the social platform created in response to the ad-driven consumer social networks (specifically Twitter), just announced that it has raised $2.5 million in new funding. The announcement came as part of a longer blog post celebrating the project’s one-year anniversary.

Valve’s Former Steam Guru Jason Holtman Lands At Microsoft To Spearhead Its PC Gaming Efforts – Microsoft confirmed today that it has hired Jason Holtman to help lead its PC gaming efforts. Holtman left Valve in February for unknown reasons. As Neowin reported, he was known in that role for his work on Steam, the exceedingly popular PC game sale and delivery platform.

Apple plunges to No. 79 on Forbes innovative companies ranking – Apple’s innovation problems were highlighted today when Forbes published its 2013 list of the world’s most innovative companies and ranked Apple at No. 79. Apple’s plummet has been dramatic. In 2011, the first year Forbes issued its Most Innovative Companies list, which ranks 100 firms, Apple earned the No. 5 spot. Last year, the Cupertino, Calif., company dropped 21 positions to No. 26. But the 53-place plunge in 2013 was the biggest decline yet.

Apple e-book price-fixing damages trial set for May – Second phase of price-fixing case against Apple will determine how much the company owes for allegedly conspiring with publishers to eliminate price competition.

Games and Entertainment:

Pay what you want for Battlefield 3, other top EA games – Electronic Arts raises more than $2 million after creating a bundle that lets people buy some excellent computer games for whatever amount they wish to donate to select charities.

Explore the TARDIS via this amazing “Doctor Who” Google Maps Easter egg – If you take Google Streetview for a ride down Earl’s Court Road in London, you will come across a Police Telephone Box with a double arrow pointing to it. The box is real; it’s been in Earl’s Court for years. Click on through and you will find yourself inside an exquisitely detailed explorable panorama of the good Doctor’s TARDIS including control panel.

Xbox One launch scaled back, eight countries delayed until 2014 – Xbox One will now launch in just 13 markets. Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, and New Zealand will all receive the console in November. Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland, originally also due to be part of this first wave, have now been pushed back to 2014.

Plants vs. Zombies 2 arrives on iOS following delay – On June 2, we reported that Plants vs. Zombies 2 was set to arrive on iOS on July 18, something much-anticipated and, sadly, delayed. July 18 came and went with no game sequel, instead having a less-than-global rollout in a few select locations. Today PopCap announced on Facebook that the wait is finally over, with it now being available in the U.S. App Store.

Call of Duty: Ghosts introduces “squad mode,” women – New multiplayer features for Call of Duty: Ghosts were revealed today by Infinity Ward at an event for the game. The first reaction highlights include a “squad” mode and customizable soldiers, but the trailer above also reveals that—for the first time ever—females will be allowed in multiplayer. Female character skins, that is.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Geek Answers: Why does alcohol make us drunk? – Consuming alcohol does a lot of things, some good and some not so good. The most prominent effect is that it gets us drunk. But what causes drunkenness?

How mobile technology created a workforce that never stops working – Is the end of the cubicle upon us? For most people, the answer is “not today,” but the mobile worker—rarely in the office, getting most work done on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop—is becoming an increasingly large presence in corporate America.

Grasshopper Divert – On August 13th, the Falcon 9 test rig (code name Grasshopper) completed a divert test, flying to a 250m altitude with a 100m lateral maneuver before returning to the center of the pad. Grasshopper is taller than a ten story building, which makes the control problem particularly challenging. Diverts like this are an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after reentering from space at hypersonic velocity. (recommended by Michael F.)

Vine your boredom away with 10 hilarious comedians – When you’re feeling low, a quick scroll through Vine’s Comedy section will usually do the trick. But some Vine users are funnier than others—again, browsing the Comedy section will make that abundantly clear—so having some reliably hilarious people to follow is essential. We curated a list of 10 funny faves who will bring a smile to your face.

The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honour and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century – This is a marvellous book about a fascinating subject. It is, in a sense, a portrait of a serial killer. Frantz Schmidt was employed between 1578 and 1618 as the official executioner (and torturer) of the prosperous German city of Nuremberg. Over the course of his career he personally despatched 394 people, and flogged, branded or otherwise maimed many hundreds more. His life is also a tale of honour, duty and a lasting quest for meaning and redemption. (recommended by Michael F.)

Google Lets You Peek Behind The Scenes Of Its Treks Street View Tours With Stunning Microsites – Google has spent a lot of time and human hours mapping some of the more remote areas of the globe with its Trekker program, and now users have a chance to go behind the scenes and learn more about both those places and the process. Google put up a new Behind The Scenes site for the Treks Street View project, complete with video, amazing images, maps and audio and visual tours.

Something to think about:

“Absurdity – Obama’s new logic.”

–    Liam O’Moulain

Today’s Free Downloads:

Shotcut 13.08.14 – Shotcut is a free, open source, cross-platform video editor.

HTMLcoder 3.5 – HTMLcoder is an easy to use utility that will help you create a webpage in minutes. If you create regular web news pages you might find this freeware of help, just activate HTMLcoder.exe and create a shortcut to it for your Desktop.

Don’t Sleep 3.02 – Don’t Sleep is a small portable program to prevent system shutdown, Standby, Hibernate, Turn Off and Restart. But not only that, it also prevents logging off the computer, and the deactivation of the monitor or activation of the screen saver.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Things the Authorities Say to Mislead You About NSA Surveillance – It’s been two months since President Barack Obama first said that he welcomes a debate about NSA surveillance, which he once again reiterated last week at his press conference. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to have a real debate about a subject when the administration constantly and intentionally misleads Americans about the NSA’s capabilities and supposed legal powers. Infamously, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper was forced to apologize for lying to Congress about whether the government was collecting information on millions of Americans, but that was merely the tip of the administration’s iceberg of mendacity and misdirection. At this point, it seems nothing the government says about the NSA can be taken at face value.

NSA, DEA, IRS Lie About Fact That Americans Are Routinely Spied On By Our Government: Time For A Special Prosecutor – The Obama Administration repeatedly has assured us that the NSA does not collect the private information of ordinary Americans. Those statements simply are not true. We now know that the agency regularly intercepts and inspects Americans’ phone calls, emails, and other communications, and it shares this information with other federal agencies that use it to investigate drug trafficking and tax evasion. Worse, DEA and IRS agents are told to lie to judges and defense attorneys about their use of NSA data, and about the very existence of the SOD, and to make up stories about how these investigations started so that no one will know information is coming from the NSA’s top secret surveillance programs.

Poll: Only 11% Trust Obama On NSA Reform Promises: White House appoints Intelligence Director who lied under oath about NSA to investigate his own spying program – A newly released opinion poll reveals that only 11% of Americans believe that the president will act upon a promise last week to scale back and provide more transparency on the surveillance programs operated by the NSA. The survey by Rasmussen found that the vast majority of Americans simply do not believe a word Obama says when it comes to domestic spying. Out of 1000 respondents, only 11% said they believed that the president’s pledges would make it less likely that the NSA will monitor Americans’ communications.

PRISM could ruin businesses that rely on the cloud – Edward Snowden’s revelations surrounding the U.S. government’s domestic surveillance system known as PRISM continues to create fallout. The latest casualty could be your business. A report [PDF] from The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has revealed how the domestic spying system could cause the U.S. cloud computing industry to lose between $22 and $35 billion over the next three years. This is a direct result of the PRISM program, an “immediate and lasting” problem that will grow larger and larger “if foreign customers decide the risks of storing data with a U.S. company outweigh the benefits.”

U.S.-Brazil relations face ‘challenge’ under dark cloud of NSA leaks – The United States pledged on Tuesday that Brazil and other allies will get answers about American communications surveillance aimed at thwarting terrorism, but gave no indication it would change the way it gathers such information. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Brazil not to let recent revelations of secret internet surveillance by the United States derail growing trade, diplomatic and cultural relations between the two largest economies in the Americas.

Angry U.S. voters fight back against NSA surveillance program – Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about government invasion of privacy while investigating terrorism, and some ordinary citizens are finding ways to push back. They are signing online petitions and threatening lawsuits. Some are pressing service providers to be upfront when data is shared with the government, which federal law allows so long as the person isn’t being investigated under an active court order.

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2 Comments

Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 15, 2013

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