Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 22, 2013

Back to School: The Top Apps for Teachers – Students aren’t the only ones bringing electronic devices to school. Teachers are also in the midst of this BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) age, and it’s far better for them to be friends with smartphones and tablets than to pretend they’re not out there. In fact, with the right devices teachers may not even need a pen, paper, or laptop to get their work done.

Back to School: Best Apps for Students – Wondering which mobile apps your kids should have loaded on their devices as they head back to class? Here’s a list for all pupils, from kindergarteners to college students.

Three ways to optimize your Android tablet for work productivity – The best thing about Android tablets is that you don’t need to rewire them or add hardware to make them more useful. All you have to do is check if they run properly, install helpful apps, and put up proper security measures. Here are three ways to turn your tablet into an optimized productivity-boosting tool.

Facebook Aims To Be A News Source By Now Letting Everyone Embed Public Posts – With hashtags, trending topics, verified profiles, and now the ability to embed public posts on external websites, Facebook is making a big push to become a primary source of real-time news, both for journalists and readers. It opened post embeds to a few partners last month. Now anyone can grab embed codes from public posts, and Facebook’s added in-line video playback, and better mobile display.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Maps Now Features Real-time Crowdsourced Accident Info – Google Maps just got a little bit more powerful. The iOS and Android versions of the mapping application now include real-time crowdsourced traffic and road hazard notifications from Waze.

Box Doubles Free Plan to 10GB, Adds SMB ‘Starter’ Plan – Cloud-storage and collaboration service Box on Wednesday doubled its free personal plan from 5GB to 10GB of storage, and launched a brand-new starter plan specifically tailored for small businesses.

Omate TrueSmart Watch Makes Calls All By Itself – The Omate TrueSmart watch promises to have a built-in microSIM card slot, so you can make calls and get text messages without tethering to your smartphone.

Five apps for creating business graphics – Businesses large and small periodically need to create custom graphics for marketing and other purposes. Although Photoshop is often the tool of choice for creating business graphics, it is far from being the only tool available. This article discusses a variety of graphical tools that can be used to create varying types of business graphics.

10 ways to get the most from VirtualBox – When it comes time to virtualize aspects of your office, you’re going to want to know the ins and outs of the software you’re using. If that software is VirtualBox, there are plenty of tricks for getting more from that virtualization platform. Whether you are an old-hat at VirtualBox or a newbie, you can maximize the benefits from this software if you know what you’re looking for.

Never run out of new places to go, thanks to Foursquare – The app helps you find new and interesting local spots so you (ideally) never get bored.

Google’s new Helpouts let you make money while you Hangout – Helpouts lets anyone (for now, anyone with an invite code) set up shop online. Payments are made using Google Wallet, and Google will take a 20% cut. There are, of course, restrictions on the types of services you can provide. Things like private cooking lessons, language coaching, and bike repair? All fine. Private sex shows and one-on-one gambling? Not so much.

Running Windows XP means you are non-compliant and open to liability – On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will not release any security patches for Windows XP, which will effectively make it non-compliant with HIPAA / HITECH.

Break out of the blogging doldrums – Unfortunately, without sound and consistent execution of good blogging practices, it’s highly likely your business blog will just become a shell filled with hopeful expectations. Here are suggestions for making your new business blog effective at capturing your expectations of success, or for making your existing business blog even better.

Staples supplies bad news on PC sales – Office supply retailer lays out some hard numbers for shrinking PC sales. Tablets are where the action is.

Mac Antivirus Solutions Compared – AV-Comparatives, an independent antivirus test lab, has released a test of 8 antivirus products for the Mac. Unfortunately, antivirus isn’t the most interesting part of these products.


See how easily freaks can take over your life (video 4:15) – Would you panic while internet crooks took over your life? We put one real victim through the test. We scared the hell out of him by gradually taking over his life. His freaked out reactions, should urge people to be very vigilant and never to share personal and banking information by mail or by telephone. (Highly recommended.)

Hackers attack League of Legends, steal user account data and credit card info – Late Tuesday, Riot Games announced that hackers managed to breach the company’s servers, swiping the usernames, email addresses, salted password hashes, and real-word names of North American players of the uber-popular League of Legends game. Worse, nearly 120,000 credit card transactions have been accessed.

Cybercrooks use DDoS attacks to mask theft of banks’ millions – At least three US banks in recent months have been plundered by fraudulent wire transfers while hackers deployed “low powered” DDoS attacks to mask their theft, Avivah Litan, an analyst at research firm Gartner, told She declined to name the institutions affected but said the attacks appeared unrelated to the wave of DDoS attacks last winter and spring that took down Web sites belonging to JP Morgan , Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup, HSBC, and others.

Poison Ivy, used in RSA SecurID attack, still popular – Poison Ivy is a remote access trojan (RAT) that was released eight years ago but is still favored by some hackers, FireEye wrote in a new report released Wednesday. It has a familiar Windows interface, is easy to use and can log keystrokes, steal files and passwords.

Company News:

Microsoft turns Scroogled into ‘Schoolgled’ in new anti-Google attack ad – The latest wave in the Scroogled campaign, timed to coordinate with the announcement of “Bing for Schools,” slammed the Google search engine’s practice of placing advertisements on results pages. As an alternative, Microsoft has offered schools an ad-free version of its Bing search engine and let parents apply Bing Rewards credits — earned for using the company’s search service — to schools, which can redeem them for free Surface RT tablets.

Google reportedly reserving Best Buy space in 2014 for Google Glass – An interesting, if somewhat brief, rumor has surfaced by way of Robert Scoble, who took to Google+ earlier. Reportedly, Google is renting quite a bit of space in Best Buy stores in 2014 for the purpose of selling Google Glass. There isn’t much information to go right now, but the source alluded to something big in Google’s plans.

Telepathy One wearable Google Glass rival scores millions in initial funding round – The company behind the rather stylish device – Telepathy Inc. – has scored $5 million in its initial round of funding, something that will help the company get its product into consumer hands sometime next year, if all goes as planned. The funds will go to bringing in more engineers.

Hewlett-Packard Turns 3Q Profit but Revenue Falls – Hewlett-Packard made a profit in the latest quarter, reversing a huge loss a year ago that stemmed from an $8 billion charge. But the technology bellwether’s revenue declined amid weakness in the PC market that shows no signs of easing.

Games and Entertainment:

Trailer: Blizzard announces Diablo III expansion Reaper of Souls – If you’ve stuck with Diablo III this long (and bully on you if you have), chances are good that you’re desperate for some new content beyond grinding the end game for better and better loot and slightly increased stat numbers. Blizzard feels your pain. Today, the company announced an expansion called Reaper of Souls that promises to extend the game with significant new content past the already significant patches and tweaks currently available.

Gone Home review: Where the heart is – Haunting interactive story has the emotional resonance of a good art house movie. But Gone Home isn’t a movie. You control it with a mouse and keyboard; you walk through its world and uncover its plot and secrets. The term “video game” doesn’t really fit well either, though, as its interactivity is very limited. The story is the star, not your ability to react quickly or solve puzzles. You do little more than wander slowly, pick up hand-written letters, and listen to audio diaries.

Activision offers $10 upgrade path for Call of Duty: Ghosts on PS4, Xbox One – What that means is, select titles that you choose to purchase for the PS3, can also be purchased on the PS4 at a greatly reduced price. In other words: buy current gen, then upgrade to next-gen for a few dollars. Such a program should keep gamers purchasing key games on their PS3 knowing they’ve got an easy and cheap upgrade path when the PS4 is available to buy.

Bethesda planning $15 monthly fee for Elder Scrolls Online – Just a few years ago, it would have been completely unremarkable for new massively multiplayer game to charge a monthly fee to players. But today, it counts as news when Bethesda confirms (via an interview with GameStar) that The Elder Scrolls Online will cost players $15 a month (€12.99/£8.99 in Europe) after a 30-day trial period.

A Quick Guide to the PlayStation 4 Launch, Including the Games Lineup – We now know pretty much all we need to about Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 launch: It’ll be here in mid-November (before Thanksgiving), it costs $100 less than Microsoft’s Xbox One (and $50 more than a Deluxe Wii U) and it looks more or less like a trapezoidal PS2. Here’s more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Dr. Phil to Twitter: Is it OK to have sex with drunk girl? – A tweet from the famous TV shrink gets a stormy reaction from his followers and others. It is later removed.

Smartphone display wars go to ludicrous speed: 2560×1440 in 5.5 inches – Tired of the absolutely terrible 468 pixels per inch (PPI) of the HTC One, or Apple’s hideous retina display with its measly 326 PPI? Then LG has some great news, in the form of a 5.5-inch, 2560×1440, “Quad HD” IPS panel. That’s a resolution you’d normally find on a screen measuring 27″ or 30″ diagonally, and it yields a whopping 538 PPI.

Free Surface RT tablets for schools: Should kids have to use what adults don’t want? – Microsoft’s new “Bing for Schools” plan will give away Surface RT tablets to schools whose staff, children, and parents use an ad-free version of Bing. It sounds like a great idea — but should schoolkids be using technology that parents and other adults have shown they don’t want?

How Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu are slowly turning your PC into a smartphone – Once the belle of the technology ball, desktops and laptops now share the spotlight with smartphones and tablets, and the embrace of mobile devices by consumers has provoked deep changes in the computing landscape. No, PCs aren’t dying out, but they are shifting form to more closely resemble the Hot New Things. And there’s good reason for it.

Tech Gets Its Own “Modest Proposal” – In Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” he postulates that one solution to the problem of poverty in Ireland is that the poor sell their offspring to rich people as food. In Patrick McConlogue’s “Finding the unjustly homeless, and teaching them to code,” he makes a similar logical leap, that fixing the “lost pieces” of humanity can happen with a couple of books of JavaScript How-Tos and an old laptop.

Stormy weather — on the sun — heading toward Earth – With a massive coronal eruption from the sun, NASA warns of an approaching geomagnetic storm. While the effects will probably be mild, some power grid and satellite services could be disrupted.

Something to think about:

There’s so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?”

–      Dick Cavett

Today’s Free Downloads:

ArsClip – ArsClip gives you a much more powerful clipboard than the default in Windows. It adds so many bonus features that you might not even know where to begin. It’s a fantastic download for anyone who frequently cuts and pastes chunks of text. (Note: this app is a CNET download – pay particular attention to the installer which is loaded with additional software offers that you probably don’t want.)

FreeCommander – Having too many icons and too much information isn’t necessarily a bad thing for this program. FreeCommander is one of the most detailed file management tools you’ll find for free. That makes it a great download for users who want more information and options that Windows or other freeware won’t give them. (Note: this app is a CNET download – pay particular attention to the installer which is loaded with additional software offers that you probably don’t want.)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA unlawfully stored 56,000 US emails a year, 2011 court ruling reveals – The NSA’s PRISM program unlawfully gathered “tens of thousands” of emails and other communications in a surveillance sweep described as “fundamentally different” to what courts had approved, according to a newly-declassified FISA court opinion. The 2011 ruling by John D. Bates, chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court responsible for green-lighting monitoring, slammed the National Security Agency for misleading on what, exactly, it was collecting, the Washington Post reports, after the Electronic Frontier Foundation petitioned to have the document released.

US Director Of National Intelligence Launches Tumblr Site “IC On The Record” To Assuage Surveillance Concerns – The U.S. office of National Intelligence launched a new site today to promote government transparency in the wake of the months-long scandals surrounding the National Security Agency’s surveillance tactics. The site is a good idea on the surface, but such great portions of the declassified documents are (and, I presume, will continue to be) redacted that it won’t end up being a big help.

The NSA’s phony national firewall proposal – According to an anonymously-sourced report in the New York Times, the NSA wants to build a firewall/IDS/IPS around the whole United States of America. The idea is completely ridiculous, impractical in the extreme, and perhaps just a ruse for other operations.

In Salt Lake City for the 2002 Olympics? The NSA may have read your texts – A report from the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday gives a much clearer look at how—and how much—information is gathered by the secret NSA programs recently brought to light in the Edward Snowden leaks. The WSJ’s report relies on the testimony of multiple anonymous “current and former intelligence and government officials and people from companies that help build or operate the systems, or provide data.”


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 22, 2013

  1. Mac Antivirus
    They forgot to mention avast! it offers some pretty impressive protection for the Mac and the product is totally free:
    There may not be as many attacks against a Mac but, if you run into one without proper protection, it will kill you Mac just the same as an attack on Windows kills that OS.