Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 28, 2013

Stop data-hogging Android apps – Ready to find out which app is eating all of your data each time it’s running? NetLive knows exactly how much data your other apps are using right now.

Five Apps: Windows 7 Gadgets that gather system information – For many users, having instant, up-to-date, information about a system means an efficient environment. Windows 7 Desktop Gadgets could be the answer.

Compared: iWork for iCloud, Google Docs and Microsoft Office Web Apps – There are alternatives to Microsoft Office that provide many of the most commonly used features of Word, Excel and PowerPoint at a much better price—free. And unlike older Office alternatives, such as OpenOffice, the new online office suites from Apple, Google and Microsoft, too, will work on your Android and iOS devices, as well. Here’s how the big three stack up.

Control desktop apps with the touch screen of your iPad – Parallels Access is a must-have for iPad owners that need to control apps on their desktop PC. Parallels Access lets you connect with both Windows and Mac computers from your iPad, and even gives you an iPad-like experience for launching and using regular desktop computer apps.

US leads the world in government requests of Facebook user data – American authorities—presumably ranging across local, state, and federal levels—requested information on “20,000 to 21,000” individual accounts. Facebook handed over “some data” in 79 percent of those cases. Curiously, the US is the only country where Facebook expresses this data as a range rather than as a specific number.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

School district hires company to follow kids’ Facebook, Twitter – What lazy, neurotic employer wouldn’t love to know if a potential hire was a school bully a few years ago? Might the employer be able to contact the school district and demand a record of all social media activity that took place in a potential employee’s youth? When kids grow up, there will be parts of their lives they want to erase. Yet here will be records that keep that past alive. The twin-pronged fork of surveillance is currently being examined for the potential of its worth.

Nexus 4 8GB and 16GB prices slashed – Google has just slashed the rate of its 8GB and 16GB Nexus 4 models in the Play Store by $100, bringing the price down to $199. Such follows closely on the heels of Nexus 5 speculation, not the least of which was a rumor earlier this month that Google would be keeping the same pricing structure for the next-generation Nexus, placing it at $299.

Free help desk software to keep your SMB running smoothly – These four tools can help small or medium size businesses manage their help desks and track bugs.

How your small business can mine big data – Surprisingly affordable (or free) services can analyze customer data for insight and profit.

Google releases iOS app to configure Chromecast devices – People buying the $35 Web-to-TV streaming-video devices now can set them up with an iOS app, not just a PC with a Web browser.

MedicalKeyring: Your medical data on a fingerprint thumbdrive – This keyring, billed as having the world’s smallest biometric fingerprint reader, shows your emergency medical info at the touch of a button.

The cloud just keeps growing–Microsoft bumps SkyDrive Pro to 25GB – Microsoft announced an increase in space Tuesday for users of its business-oriented cloud storage service SkyDrive Pro (part of the Office 365 suite). Microsoft bumped its existing 7GB offering up to a 25GB default for all paying customers—freeloaders remain capped at 7GB.

YouTube to shelve video responses due to extremely low click-through rate – If you can’t remember that last time you watched a YouTube video response, you’re not the only one. As it turns out, only four out of every one million users who see a video response actually click on it, something that works out to a click-through rate of 0.0004%. Because of this, YouTube has announced that the feature will go away next month.

Security:

Malicious Chrome extensions on the rise – Kaspersky Lab has observed in increase in the use of malicious Chrome extensions to compromise users. The latest pose as a Facebook video.

The lunacy of trying to avoid NSA spying by moving e-mail and cloud out of the US – Some people are to much in a panic about the NSA spying on them that they’re going to move their e-mail and cloud services out of the US entirely to “safer” foreign companies.

Syrian Electronic Army Apparently Hacks DNS Records Of Twitter, NYT Through Registrar Melbourne IT – The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for hacking the domain name servers of two of Twitter’s sites, and a third appears to have been redirected to servers hosted by the SEA. In addition, attacks have been made on The New York Times and Huffington Post UK name servers.

Hackers had Melbourne IT reseller credentials to attack NYT, Twitter – No sophisticated attack was required to attack The New York Times and Twitter, as hackers already had valid credentials to allow them to change DNS entries.

Twitter: No data breach from hack – The Syrian Electronic Army reportedly took over the site and prevented users from seeing images, but Twitter says no personal information was affected.

iOS and Android weaknesses allow stealthy pilfering of website credentials – Both OSes fail to ensure that browser cookies, document files, and other sensitive content from one Internet domain are off-limits to scripts controlled by a second address without explicit permission, according to a just-published academic paper from scientists at Microsoft Research and Indiana University. The so-called same-origin policy is a fundamental security mechanism enforced by desktop browsers, but the protection is woefully missing from many iOS and Android apps.

Researchers reverse-engineer the Dropbox client: What it means – There were doubts about being able to reverse engineer heavily-obfuscated applications written in Python. Two researchers have removed all doubt by reverse engineering the immensely popular Dropbox client.

Cybercrime service automates creation of fake ID verification documents – A new Web-based service for cybercriminals automates the creation of fake scanned documents that can help fraudsters bypass the identity-verification processes used by some banks, e-commerce businesses, and other online services providers, according to researchers from Russian cybercrime investigations firm Group-IB.

Company News:

Yahoo’s Redesign Isn’t Over Yet, More Sites & Ad Formats To Come – Yahoo rolled out a major redesign to several of its web properties today – a move that’s part of a project apparently code-named “Grand Slam.” At least that’s how it was recently described in a Vogue profile of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, which said Grand Slam is “an effort to bring a more coherent look and identity to Yahoo’s pages.”

BlackBerry considers spinning off Messenger as separate business – The Journal reports that the subsidiary, which would be named BBM Inc., would move to offer additional services atop the messaging platform, potentially including a Twitter-like service called BBM Channels and a desktop client.

Huawei plans 5G network launch by 2020, 100 times faster than 4G – Huawei intends to introduce commercial 5G networks by 2020, a service touted as “100 times faster” than current fourth generation networks.

Baidu reportedly in talks to develop smart TVs – Chinese search giant said to be in discussions with local manufacturer Huan Technology on developing a set-top box or chip for use in smart TVs, which could take on Alibaba Group’s move into the Internet TV space in July.

Games and Entertainment:

Bethesda “pushing” against Xbox Live Gold fee for Elder Scrolls Online – So far, Bethesda Softworks (and parent company Zenimax Media) has bucked industry trends by planning a $15 per month subscription for its upcoming The Elder Scrolls Online, adding a bit of insult to injury by including a real-money shop for nonessential items. Now the company says it’s trying to get Microsoft to agree to waive the additional requirement of an Xbox Live Gold subscription for Xbox One players, though without much success so far.

Microsoft claims Killer Instinct is the world’s most generous game demo – Last week Microsoft revealed exactly how it intends to offer fighting game Killer Instinct to gamers on Xbox One launch day. It’s basically a free game in limited form, but scales up to a full price and fully featured title if you are willing to pay.

Disney Infinity Review: Finally, a game with all the wit, charm, and crass commercialization of a Disney movie – Disney Infinity is best described as Disney Interactive’s attempt at imitating Activision’s hugely successful Skylanders games. Like Skylanders, Infinity requires players to place RFID-tagged physical objects—figures, play sets, or power discs—onto the plastic “Infinity Base” sensor, a console accessory that imports the data on the toy and allows them to be played in-game.

Blackbar is a Fascinating Sci-Fi Word Puzzle for iPhone and iPad – Fans of dystopian science fiction tales will want to sit up and take note of a new game on iOS. Blackbar is an intricate and engrossing word game where you must decipher the letters sent to you by an old friend after they have been censored by the devious Department of Communication. If that sounds uninteresting, rest assured that it’s actually quite a challenge.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Researchers create first ever human-to-human interface, use it to play a game – Researchers at the University of Washington have achieved something that, as far as they know, is the first ever functioning human-to-human brain interface that doesn’t involve picking around inside the participants’ skulls. Using a system to transmit a brain signal via the Internet, one participant was able to control the hand of the other.

5 Ways Products Find You Online With Shopping Personalization – Searching for products you’ll love is becoming less important. They’re starting to come to you thanks to targeted advertising.

Twerk, Selfie, Bitcoin, Others Added To Oxford Dictionary As Silicon Valley, Middle Schoolers Push English Language Forward – The new words are an odd mix of techie and tween-y. Here are some of the words that are being added.

Infants remember speech heard in the womb – Human fetuses begin to hear sounds that reach them from outside the womb at about 27 weeks. But it wasn’t clear whether fetuses can learn from these sounds in ways that shape speech perception and development during infancy. Now it appears they can.

Astronomers create 3D fly-through of Hubble Ultra Deep Field image – The Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) is one of the most incredible images ever captured by the space telescope. It contains roughly 10,000 galaxies spotted in a small, seemingly empty patch of sky. A new animation from NASA takes the HUDF to the next level by using it as the basis for an animated fly-through of the distant universe.

Assessing Zuckerberg’s Idea That Facebook Could Help Citizens Re-Make Their Government – Mark Zuckerberg has a grand vision that Facebook will help citizens in developing countries decide their own governments. It’s a lofty and partially attainable goal. While Egypt probably won’t let citizens vote for their next president with a Like, it is theoretically possible to use Facebook to crowdsource expertise.

Something to think about:

The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.”

–    Horace Walpole

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ghostery 5.0.3 – Ghostery sees the “invisible” web, detecting trackers, web bugs, pixels, and beacons placed on web pages by Facebook, Google Analytics, and over 1,000 other ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers – all companies interested in your activity. After showing you who operates behind the scenes, Ghostery also gives you the opportunity to learn more about each company it identifies, including links to their privacy policy and opt-out options. Ghostery allows you to block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and even block images and iframes.

PicPick 3.2.7 – PicPick is user friendly and full of features for creating your image, suitable for software developers, graphic designers and home user. It is an all-in-one program that provides full-featured screen capture tool, intuitive image editor, color picker, color palette, pixel ruler, protractor, crosshair and even whiteboard. It has not only everything what you need, but it loads fast, sits quietly in the system tray until needed. This software is provided as freeware for only personal use. In this case, you are granted the right to use this program free of charge. Otherwise, you need to pay for a license for commercial use.

nLite 1.4.9.2 – Have you ever wanted to remove Windows components like Media Player, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, MSN Explorer, Messenger… How about not even to install them with Windows? nLite is a tool for pre-installation Windows configuration and component removal at your choice. Optional bootable image ready for burning on media or testing in virtual machines.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

In ACLU lawsuit, scientist demolishes NSA’s “It’s just metadata” excuse – Yesterday, the ACLU filed a declaration by Princeton Computer Science Prof. Edward Felten to support its quest for a preliminary injunction in that lawsuit. Felten’s declaration is meant to convince a judge to grant a preliminary injunction stopping or limiting NSA activity while the constitutionality of it can be judged. Previous court challenges to suspected government spying programs haven’t fared well. But now the ACLU has public pressure on its side, and the government can’t claim that secrecy must shut down the court proceeding. Everything has been moved into the sphere of public debate whether the government likes it or not. The judge has already rejected an attempt to delay this case. Oral arguments on the preliminary injunction are scheduled for November 1.

US policies influence tech firms standing in Asia – Actions of U.S. government impact the way Asian countries look at U.S. technology companies like VMware, making it tough for them to do business in these fast-growing markets, says CEO Pat Gelsinger.

The Real, Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda – The scariest explanation of all? That the NSA and GCHQ are just showing they don’t want to be messed with. The incident prompted a major outcry in the U.K. The U.K.’s Terrorist Act has always been controversial, and this clear misuse — it was intended to give authorities the right to detain and question suspected terrorists — is prompting new calls for its review.

How Snowden did it – When Edward Snowden stole the crown jewels of the National Security Agency, he didn’t need to use any sophisticated devices or software or go around any computer firewall. All he needed, said multiple intelligence community sources, was a few thumb drives and the willingness to exploit a gaping hole in an antiquated security system to rummage at will through the NSA’s servers and take 20,000 documents without leaving a trace. “It’s 2013 and the NSA is stuck in 2003 technology,” said an intelligence official.

3 Comments

Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

3 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 28, 2013

  1. Bill… you have a plethora of information here… that proves you’re a techie heheh! I appreciate the article on “Cybercrime service automates creation of fake ID verification documents”. I’m very interested in getting into the cyber security field. I was thinking it would be best to start with a programming language like C++ to learn the basics to understand how to manipulate software and programs. Am I in the ballpark or on the right track?

    • Hi Steve,

      There’s no doubt that the ability to function in a programming language (e.g. Python, Ruby, C++, Java,….), pays dividends – but, I’m not convinced that’s the way to get your feet wet.

      Instead, I suggest that you spend some time with Metasploit (“Find security issues, verify vulnerability mitigations & manage security assessments with Metasploit”), which will give you a real taste of penetration testing (hacking by any other name). Community help and extensive documentation is available.

      If you have additional time, then checkout Python which offers substantial community help.

      Good luck with your career choice.

      Best,

      Bill