Monthly Archives: September 2013

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 30, 2013

Ten reasons not to fix computers for free; How your identity gets swiped even if you’re careful; Four tips to speed up your Android tablet; Become a hacker. Coding experience not needed; Google Must Face Wiretapping Charges; Explore 10 incredible open-world games; Bypassing oversight, NSA collects details on American connections.

Spread the Word! October Is Cyber Security Awareness Month – Learn some helpful tips on how to strengthen your password security from Siber Systems’ RoboForm.

How your identity gets swiped even if you’re careful – A site called SSNDOB has been selling names, social security numbers, birthdates, and more culled from these sites via a botnet attack last spring. According to Brian Krebs, you could buy a credit report from the site on anyone for just $15. A background check would run you $12; a drivers license record $4, and assorted other bits of highly personal info costs 50 cents to $1.50 per.

Ten reasons not to fix computers for free – Do you feel like a heel if you don’t want to fix computer problems for friends and family? Hear are some of the reasons you shouldn’t feel guilty.

Gain an extra level of security on your Android phone with Vault-Hide – Jack Wallen takes a look at Vault-Hide, an applications that allows you to hide calls, contacts, SMS, pictures, videos, and more on your Android smartphone.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Four tips to speed up your Android tablet – I’ve seen it before with a number of devices; Android tablets starting to bog down to the point of not being responsive at all. What do you do? Is it time to reset that tablet to factory defaults? Probably not. Instead of scrapping the current state of your tablet, try these four quick tips to regain control of your wayward Android tablet.

Creative apps to keep your kids busy on a rainy day – Rainy days are the worst when you’re a kid. You can’t play outside, everything inside is boring, and adults are all cranky because of the weather. But kids these days are a luckier bunch—there’s no end to the amount of entertainment available at their fingertips. But how about some options to really get their creative juices flowing? Tablet apps can inspire all kinds of creativity, from drawing to cooking to music. Here are nine fantastic choices to try the next time the weather turns terrible.

GOP Threatens Net Neutrality Over ‘Obamacare,’ Debt Concessions – By involving the tech community in the healthcare and debt war, Congress has gone too far. Amidst heated debate over the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare,” and in exchange for short-term funding to avoid a possible government shutdown, House Republicans have put together a proposal of demands, one of which includes a block on net neutrality.

Infographic: Cloud apps and knowledge workers – This infographic breaks down a recent survey of workers, executives, and IT about the adequacy of their tools for remote access and the role of cloud apps.

Bitcoins for sex: Escort agency becomes first to accept payment in Bitcoin – Booking time with a Passion VIP escort is simple enough. You call the company, make an appointment with the receptionist, and transfer your Bitcoins. Once the payment has been accepted, you’ll receive a call back from Passion VIP, confirming the appointment. Then, the worry of payment will no longer harsh your vibe, and you won’t have to awkwardly tell your escort that “the money’s on a flash drive on the dresser on your way out.”


Known, unpatched flaws draw most attacks, Kaspersky says – Cybercriminals still make extensive use of known vulnerabilities, even as zero-day attacks continue to rise. In joint research carried out by Kaspersky Lab and Outpost24, unpatched loopholes continue to be a popular means of carrying out attacks.

Become a hacker. Coding experience not needed – I recently watched a YouTube video in which Bogdan Botezatu, senior e-threat analyst for BitDefender, demonstrated the ease with which someone can infect an Android app. What made the process a snap was a free tool called AndroRAT, which anyone can find with a simple web search. The version of AndroRAT Botezatu used required no coding. With just a few clicks by the user, the software decompiled the APK of an app downloaded from Google Play, inserted the malicious code and then repackaged everything. The tool also configured the app with the IP address needed to communicate with a C&C server.

Iran accused of hacking into U.S. Navy computers – The U.S. doesn’t believe important data was stolen, but the attacks showed a new level of Iranian hacking power, including the ability to access military data, U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal. Either agents working directly for the Iranian government or an outside group with Iran’s approval allegedly carried out the attacks.

Britain creates counter-attack cyber unit – The U.K. government will follow in the footsteps of the U.S. and create a military unit dedicated to launching counter-attacks against hackers.

Buffering SSL encryption to combat today’s emerging threats – Next-generation firewalls should include intrusion prevention (IPS), the ability to decrypt and inspect SSL sessions in real time, and the ability to visualize and control application traffic as it crosses the network.

Java called favorite target for hack attacks this year – Analysis of attacks shows the top five exploited vulnerabilities accounting for 95 percent of all attacks, with the U.S. the geographic location most targeted. F-Secure estimates 78 out of every 1000 users in the U.S. saw a detection identifying an exploit of a specific vulnerability in the last six months. Germany also saw a fairly high number of attacks with about 60 out of 1000 users hit within the same time frame.

Company News:

Google Must Face Wiretapping Charges – Google lost a request to dismiss a class-action case over Gmail scanning. A California judge this week rejected Google’s request to dismiss a class-action case that accuses the search giant of violating federal and state wiretap laws via a program in Gmail that scans emails to serve up targeted ads.

France Moves to Impose Sanctions Against Google Over Privacy Policy – French officials today moved to impose sanctions against Google for failing to alter its privacy policy. At issue is an update to Google’s privacy policy that went into effect on March 1, 2012. The revamp consolidated 70 or so privacy policies across Google’s products down to one. But with this change, Google also switched to one profile for users across all services rather than separate logins for offerings like YouTube, Search, and Blogger.

Nokia’s cheapest Windows Phone now world’s best-selling Windows product – Microsoft reveals that the world’s best-selling Windows-based product right now isn’t a PC or a tablet, but a Windows Phone: the entry-level Nokia Lumia 520, available from just $79 off-contract.

Apple most valuable brand of 2013, leaves Coca-Cola in the dust – Apple has something new to boast about as it grabs a coveted top spot in the most valuable brands of 2013. Following closely is search giant and Android maker Google at second. The two technology companies have displaced former king Coca-Cola for the first time in the list’s history, possibly signifying a shift in market perception and brand valuation.

New Windows 8.1 TV ad shows the Start button, small and big Live tiles and more – Microsoft’s new TV commercial for Windows 8.1 makes sure that people know there’s a Start button to quickly move from the Start screen to desktop, along with larger and smaller Live tiles.

Apple paying $40 to some iPad 3G owners for legal settlement – Apple and AT&T are finally settling a legal battle over the 3G iPad from 2010 and as part of the agreement, both companies will be offering up money or monetary discounts to certain iPad owners.

Games and Entertainment:

Explore 10 incredible open-world games – In an open-world game, you have almost no restrictions on where you can go within the confines of the game, and very few rules governing what you can do within it. Here are 10 other open-world games that you can explore for weeks and years to come, starting with the dragon-infested fantasy land of Tamriel.

Grand Theft Auto Online in-game payments for cash: Rockstar confirms – As Microsoft gears up for a rockstar-like world tour of its latest flagship gaming product Xbox One, Rockstar North has dropped a bombshell that has its doggedly loyal fan base foaming at the mouth. In a blog post last week, the game development giant confirmed that its highly anticipated blockbuster Grand Theft Auto Online will indeed allow for real micro-payments in exchange for in-game cash.

What Games Are: Steam’s Big Bet – With new consoles and microconsoles starting to pop into existence, this week Valve finally revealed its answer: SteamOS. Steam Machines. Steam Controllers. Boom. Its ambitions are not to launch a console but a whole solution for home gaming entertainment. In a sense it has to.

Kickstarter-funded RPG Shadowrun Returns Arrives on iPad and Android – Shadowrun Returns is a classic turn-based top-down RPG with a deep story, a ton of items, and serious character creation. After a year of waiting, this Kickstarter hit is on iPad and Android.

Shadow Warrior – Shadow Warrior is a surprisingly successful reboot of a problematic ’90s shooter that captures the essence of an over-the-top ’80s action movie.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 hilarious video game glitch GIFs – Game designers can only do so much to make sure everything works as it is supposed to, so when you have thousands (or millions) of gamers putting in hour after hour with a game, they’re sure to encounter some bugs that made it past testing. A lot of them are pretty funny too. Let’s check out 10 of the best in GIF form.

When Baby Hits The Bottle, So Does Daddy – Drinking with small children in the house isn’t taboo; it’s compulsory. “Happy hour starts at 7 pm. We have taken to the bottle. With a restorative slug of alcohol the world, for a moment, makes sense. We can laugh at our parental inadequacies, our daughters’ smiles. With alcohol, sex becomes a distant possibility. Coffee gets us through the day; alcohol gives us the fortitude to do it again”

Here’s something neat: Being messy has its benefits  – Are you born neat? Perhaps it’s an innate cognitive thing. You think hierarchically, therefore order in your outside environment (as an extension of the one inside your head) is important. Or is it a matter of how you were brought up? Does it emerge based on the demand of one’s role or job? I, for instance, have developed a stress-response tidiness tic. My family always knows I’m anxious when they see me meticulously scrubbing the kitchen counter. (suggested by Aseem S.)

The digital revolution’s lingering literacy problem – If so many of the 2.7 billion people already online still have trouble with basic computer concepts, how will the next 2.5 billion fare?

100 percent effective – You can avoid being tracked on the Internet after all. One man’s creative solution. (recommended by Michael F.)

Dutch police recruit rat detectives to sniff out crime – Derrick, Thomson and Thompson, Magnum, and Poirot are the newest recruits at a Dutch police department. These Rotterdam rats have been trained to keep the streets clean and are expected to save the police both time and money. Detective Derrick and his rat partners cost just £8 each and are capable of being trained to identify an impressive range of odors—including drugs and explosives—within ten to 15 days. In contrast, a police dog costs thousands of pounds and requires a minimum training period of eight months.

Incredible comparison chart lists almost every sci-fi starship in one image – DeviantArt user Dirk Loechel has assembled a very useful chart showing the relative sizes of almost every spacecraft in major science fiction universes through 2013. It’s massive and incredibly cool. The JPEG is 3985 x 4158 pixels, so you’re only going to see a little bit of it at a time as you pan around to check out all the ships (each pixel amounts to 10 meters). Each ship on the chart is labeled with the name, sci-fi franchise it appears in, and total length indicated by available sources.

Forget Venus and Mars, we’re beginning to understand gender behavior on Earth – We may never know every subtle difference, but gender research is coming a long way.

Something to think about:

I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution, a Radical to remove all that is bad. I seek to preserve property and to respect order, and I equally decry the appeal to the passions of the many or the prejudices of the few.”

–     Benjamin Disraeli

Today’s Free Downloads:

IObit Unlocker 1.1 – Often when we try to delete a file or folder in Windows, we see annoying messages like “Cannot delete file: Access is denied;” or “Cannot delete folder: It is being used by another person or program” or “There has been a sharing violation;” or “The source or destination file may be in use;” or “The file is in use by another program or user;” or “Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file is not currently in use;” or “Cannot read from the source file or disk.” This is majorly because the file or folder is being used by another program or user. IObit Unlocker is an ideal tool for such conditions. It releases the file or folder from being occupied by programs and allows you to quickly remove or modify the file or folder.

Wise PC 1stAid – Wise PC 1stAid is an intelligent software which has assembled most common PC problems and helps you fix them automatically through an intelligent process. It’s a rich PC solutions library and intelligent First-Aid help for you to fix PC problems.

Start Menu 8 1.3.0 – StartMenu8 is specially designed for Window 8. It offers a perfect solution for users who work with Windows Start Menu all the time and are not accustomed to the new Metro start screen in Windows 8. This smart tool brings back both the start button and Windows Start Menu, and offers the option to skip Metro start page, allowing users who only work on desktop to boot to Windows 8 desktop directly. It’s the best start menu replacement for Windows8.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Uses Facebook And GPS Data To Identify Suspects In Networks Of Americans – The National Security Agency has slowly been mapping it’s own massive network of suspects with associations to US citizens. The New York Times obtained documents that reveals how the NSA is utilizing social data to map intelligence connections.

Bypassing oversight, NSA collects details on American connections – New York Times reports that NSA has complex maps of social ties based on metadata.

The NSA Refuses To Deny That It Collected The Location Data Of US Phone Calls – This is a bit worse than you think. The NSA already tracks the time and human participation of U.S. phone calls, so why is location an issue? Because if the NSA tracks the location of U.S. cell phone calls, it has roving GPS units strapped to every citizen that could be used to map where each of us is at any given moment.

Rights groups plan anti-NSA surveillance rally in D.C. – About 100 public advocacy and other groups plan to stage what they hope will be a big rally in Washington D.C. to protest the the controversial National Security Agency surveillance programs disclosed by document-leaker Edward Snowden in June. The “Rally Against Mass Surveillance” is scheduled for the weekend of October 26, the 12th anniversary of the signing U.S Patriot Act by former president George W. Bush.

US government given December deadline to unseal more NSA documents – A federal judge has ruled that the US government must unseal more documents related to the NSA spying program by December 20. The news comes from an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) press release after the organization found some recent success in its long-running Jewel v. NSA lawsuit. (The EFF initially filed suit in 2008 in response to Bush administration revelations about the existence of NSA spying programs.)


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 27, 2013

13 great Windows Phone apps for IT pros;   Windows 8 after a year: 21 hardware hits and misses;   Samsung stops you using local SIM cards when you travel;   Google Talk Glitch; Malicious browser extensions pose a serious threat;   Inserting images in Gmail messages could get you banned;   NSA: Surveillance court says no upper limit on phone records collection.

Smartphones: Transforming society into a sea of stupid – Technology enables us to reach out to people in ways that were never possible before, but it also brings out the very worst of humanity.

Google celebrates 15 years of its biggest product: You – Google knows more about you than ever before, and you like it that way. How did the popular yet controversial company convince you of its trustworthiness?

Android advantage: Installable keyboards – Android users can change their keyboard to one of several innovative alternatives. Neither Apple’s security concerns nor Microsoft’s fears about an inconsistent user interface justify blocking such programs.

Windows 8 after a year: 21 hardware hits and misses – Over the past year, I’ve used Windows 8 (and Windows 8.1) on at least 20 different PCs in a broad range of form factors, ranging from a Vista-era desktop to an amazingly light Haswell-powered Ultrabook with a Gorilla Glass cover. Here’s a quick tour of these devices, along with my lessons learned from each one.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

13 great Windows Phone apps for IT pros – A baker’s dozen of mostly free apps for server monitoring, remote access, network troubleshooting, password management, even scripting — right from your Windows Phone.

8 Reasons Valve’s Steam Machines Conquer the Living Room and 5 They Don’t – If you’re eyeballing Valve’s SteamOS and Steam Machines announcements as some kind of weird, last ditch attempt to save PC gaming — a “can’t-beat-em-so-join-em” tactical capitulation to consoles — you need to think again, and more carefully. This isn’t Valve sort-of-kind-of picking PC gaming up off the desktop and walking it over to your comfy plush chair and big screen TV. This is Valve spooling up a tactical nuke and painting a target on Microsoft’s, Sony’s and Nintendo’s backs.

Learn to build a PC in under two minutes – Building a computer is a great way to get a custom configuration, save some money and have fun. In this how-to video, we’ll show you how to build one in less than two minutes.

Samsung now region-locking phones; stops you using local SIM cards when you travel – Samsung has begun to region-lock its smartphones, with the company confirming that it is preventing new devices bought in one region using SIM cards bought in another, starting with the Galaxy Note 3.

Take control of the connected home with these smart hubs – With smart devices booming, all-in-one smart hubs are starting to emerge as well, offering the promise of a singular control center for all of your automatable gizmos. Here are the ones we’ve come across so far.

Google Talk Glitch Sends Messages to Wrong Contacts – Google Talk is gradually returning to normal after an early morning disruption caused some users’ messages to be delivered to the wrong recipients.

Facebook allows edits for typos and botched auto-corrects – Starting Thursday, Facebook’s website and its Android app will allow users to make changes to posts after they have been published. The feature will be coming to iOS soon, a Facebook spokeswoman said.

Don’t uninstall Ubuntu, just change the interface – If you haven’t installed Ubuntu on something in a little while, you may be in for a bit of a surprise when you see the Unity interface. Canonical has done quite a bit to make things user friendly, but some adventurous Linux fans may be interested in exploring new options. If that’s the case know this: there’s no need to uninstall Ubuntu, you can change the environment to suit your needs.

Lawsuit alleging Gmail ads are “wiretapping” gets judge’s OK – Even an e-mail sender who read the company’s privacy policies “would not have necessarily understood that her e-mails were being intercepted to create user profiles or to provide targeted advertisements,” stated the judge. The plaintiffs in this case haven’t consented implicitly or explicitly to have their e-mails scanned, and so the lawsuit can move forward, she ruled.

Bug alert: Inserting images in Gmail messages could get you banned – Beware Gmail users: Inserting images into the body of an email message can get you temporarily banned from your account. Google has acknowledged the problem but hasn’t been able to stamp it out. To reduce the risk of tripping over this issue, Google recommends that people use “a browser other than Firefox” when composing an email with images in its message body.


For hire: Elite “cyber mercenaries” adept at infecting Windows and Macs – Researchers from Russia-based Kaspersky Lab have uncovered a gang of hackers for hire who specialize in surgical strikes that quickly infiltrate suppliers to Western companies, steal highly sensitive data, and then vanish. Icefog, as the group of “cyber mercenaries” has been dubbed, is made up of six to 10 members who are able to infect both Windows and Mac computers with advanced malware that’s extremely hard to detect, Kaspersky researchers revealed in a report published Wednesday.

Malicious browser extensions pose a serious threat and defenses are lacking – The number of malicious browser extensions has significantly increased in the past year but many security products fail to offer adequate protection against them, while others are simply not designed to do so, according to a security researcher. Attackers have already used such extensions to perform click fraud by inserting rogue advertisements into websites or by hijacking search queries, but research has shown that this type of malware has the potential to cause much more damage.

Microsoft Announces General Availability Of Two-Factor Authentication For Windows Azure – Microsoft has announced the general availability of Windows Azure multi-factor authentication for IT pros and users. The new security capability is available for most any application used on the cloud infrastructure.

Facebook wins $3M injunction against spammer – Nearly five years after the fact, Facebook has been awarded $3 million in damages in its case against social-network spammer Power Ventures and its CEO, Steve Vachani. The order was issued Wednesday by Judge Lucy H. Koh of the United States District Court, San Jose Division. Power Ventures and its CEO were both found liable under the Can-Spam Act for sending 60,627 spam e-mail messages to Facebook members. Koh also granted Facebook permanent injunctive relief.

Company News:

PayPal launches small-business loan program – PayPal won’t actually lend the money—its initial banking partner is WebBank. But borrowers aren’t saddled with fixed monthly payments or late fees: Rather, they repay the loan and a pre-set loan fee out of sales revenues processed by PayPal. The cost of the loan depends on the amount borrowed (generally, up to 8 percent of total annual sales processed by PayPal in the last year), the percentage of sales receipts dedicated to paying the loan (between 10 percent and 30 percent), and the merchant’s PayPal track record.

Apple’s German patent suit shut down by a 2007 video of Steve Jobs – Big problem: Jobs showed off iPhone features 5 months before patent filing date. This is the same 2007 demo in which Jobs bragged of the iPhone’s multitouch features: “And boy, have we patented it!” While that may be true in the US, it was apparently less true abroad.

Facebook Starts Up Its Mobile Ad Network Again, Focuses On Improved Targeting – After a nine-month pause, Facebook is taking its mobile ad network out for another spin. “We’re running a second test to show Facebook ads off Facebook in mobile ads and on mobile sites. Our goal is to improve the relevancy of the ads people see. Since this is a test, we don’t have additional details to share,” a Facebook representative told TechCrunch.

Intel reportedly in talks with Samsung and Amazon for Web TV backing – In February, Intel announced plans for a Web TV service, something that would be akin to Hulu and Netflix, but that would also offer live TV broadcasts. The given timeline for the service was later in 2013, a time that is quickly nearing and has prompted the company to seek backers for the service. If such backers willing to distribute and fund Web TV aren’t found, the project may fizzle away, says sources.

Evernote Announces A Market For Physical Products, Including Post-Its … And Socks? – It’s entering a partnership with 3M and its Post-it note brand to develop a special line of notepads and a camera to take notes, record them, and then seamlessly transfer them into Evernote’s platform. That news was actually leaked last night, but today Evernote went one step further, announcing that these products and more will now be sold through a special online shop, called Evernote Market. (The company says the market will also be available in its desktop and mobile apps.)

CloudPassage Extends Cloud Infrastructure Security to Large Enterprises – Halo Enterprise extends CloudPassage’s patented Halo cloud security platform to large enterprises with complex security and compliance requirements. Halo currently protects more than 400 production cloud deployments and automates security for more than 10,000 new cloud instances monthly.

ManageEngine Launches OpManager Large Enterprise Edition – ManageEngine, the real-time IT management company, today announced the general availability of the Large Enterprise Edition of OpManager, the network and data center infrastructure management software. The new edition combines enterprise-grade scalability, speed, agility and affordability to offer a compelling alternative for companies seeking to replace their legacy network management tools from HP, IBM, CA and Microsoft.

3D Robotics Raises $30 Million To Legitimize Aerial Drones For Business – The very mention of the word “drone” often conjures up images of autonomous machines cruising over battlefields, but that’s far from the future 3D Robotics has in store for its own aerial machines. And thanks a recent infusion of capital, that future may be closer than you think.

Ford CEO reportedly top pick to replace Ballmer as Microsoft chief – Ford CEO Alan Mulally has taken pole position among potential candidates for the Microsoft CEO job, sources claim, despite the exec’s ongoing denials that he has ambitions to replace Steve Ballmer. Mulally’s name was pushed by Microsoft’s board as a possibility, it was reported earlier this month, but Nokia’s Stephen Elop was believed to be the frontrunner as he returned to the firm following the smartphone division acquisition. Now, AllThingsD reports, favor has returned to focus on Mulally.

Games and Entertainment:

Report: Microsoft making game cloud streaming service – Microsoft reportedly showed some of its employees a prototype of a game streaming service at an internal meeting today that will offer high end games on Windows Phones and low end PCs

Kingdom Rush Frontiers comes to Android – One of the all-time best tower defense games comes to Android after enjoying much success on the iPhone and iPad.

The Heist: How Grand Theft Auto V gets away with murder – The week of Grand Theft Auto V’s launch could have been a controversy cash-in for the publicity lovers at Rockstar Games. The game’s checklist of features reads like Tipper Gore’s personal hell: savage murders, psychotic heroes, strip clubs, an interactive torture sequence, and enough swears and offensive terms to do George Carlin proud.

Grand Theft Auto Online cash cards will cost between $3 and $20 – Rockstar has now confirmed that purchasing in-game cash with real money is a feature of Grand Theft Auto Online. The developer has reassured gamers that the game has been balanced so as never to require you to purchase GTA$, but the option is there for “instant gratification” and to get you where you want to be quicker.

Apple TV Gets Live MLS Games And Disney Junior Kids Content Via New Channels – Apple continues to roll out its staged partner additions, with two new channels appearing on the streaming media player today. The Major League Soccer channel brings soccer (or “football,” depending on how European you are) and the Disney Junior channel adds a third outlet for that media giant’s content to invade your Apple TV.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn impressions: Proud to be an MMORPG – Here’s the reason Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (FFXIV) is good: it’s bad. That is, it’s bad at following the conventional wisdom that says MMORPGs are bad when they’re too much like work, when they’re harder to play alone, and most of all, when they’re not accessible enough. The creators of FFXIV know that these are actually the trends making the genre bad, and by ignoring them, the game manages to be good.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Our favorite Google Doodles through the years (pictures) – Growing out of a simple “out of office” nod to Burning Man, the Google Doodle has turned into a regular decorative tribute. Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable of the bunch.

This is where Ctrl+Alt+Del came from – Bill Gates regrets it, Windows users generally hate it, and its become computing shorthand for hitting reset on a bad idea, but Ctrl+Alt+Del wasn’t always a bad idea. The much-maligned key combo came in for some criticism by the former Microsoft CEO at an interview this week, with Gates questioning “Who’s idea was that?” and blaming IBM for not replacing it with a single hardware button.

Just How Much of Musical History Has Been Lost to History? – Valuable original recordings and rare tapes have vanished over the years—a process that Jack White and the National Recording Preservation Foundation are looking to stop. (suggested by Michael F.)

James Franco showing sperm on Surface is the pinnacle of Microsoft product placement – “The Mindy Project” has displayed the best product placement for Microsoft’s Surface tablet yet, with guest star James Franco using it to display what’s portrayed as a video of his sperm.

Google Recently Made A Silent Shift To A New Search Algorithm, “Hummingbird” – Have you noticed recently that Google has gotten a bit better at offering up direct answers to questions? If so, there’s a reason for it: they recently flipped the switch on a new search algorithm they call “Hummingbird”, which focuses on parsing searches as complex questions.

Man finds his dead grandmother on Google Street View – A man in Oregon suddenly spots his deceased grandmother on Google’s all-seeing camera. He says it must be one of the last images of her.

Enterprises like making Android apps; losing interest in Windows – Enterprises are increasingly interested in developing apps for Android-based smartphones and tablets, showing how Google’s OS is becoming more accepted, according to a poll. At the same time fewer are willing to spend resources on Microsoft’s OSes. Only 26% of enterprise staff are very interested in developing mobile apps for Microsoft OSes, survey finds.

Attention-operated vehicle uses EPOC headset to detect distraction, shut down car – Distracted driving, whether due to cell phone usage or other reasons, is a major cause of car crashes and the related fallout both in the U.S. and abroad, something that has prompted the NHTSA to propose an in-car system to automatically block cell phones. The Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia, more commonly called RAW WA, has come up with a more novel solution involving a so called attention-operated car.

Something to think about:

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”

–     Erica Jong

Today’s Free Downloads:

CD Recovery Toolbox Free 2.1 – CD Recovery Toolbox Free was developed for recovering damaged files from different disk types: CD, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-Ray, etc.

Apache For Windows 4.01 – is a free, Open Source alternative to MS Office with a Word compatible word processor, a complete Excel compatible spread sheet program and a Power Point like presentation software and drawing program and also allows to save to PDF file.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA: Surveillance court says no upper limit on phone records collection – A U.S. surveillance court has given the National Security Agency no limit on the number of U.S. telephone records it collects in the name of fighting terrorism, the NSA director said Thursday. The NSA intends to collect all U.S. telephone records and put them in a searchable “lock box” in the interest of national security, General Keith Alexander, the NSA’s director, told U.S. senators.

U.S. lawmakers move to curb NSA collection of phone and other records – Bipartisan bill aims to make bulk collection of telephone records illegal – A bipartisan group of four U.S. lawmakers has introduced legislation that will prohibit bulk collection of phone records of Americans. Called the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act, the bill introduced by Democratic Senators Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Richard Blumenthal, and Republican Senator Rand Paul will also provide for the creation of a “constitutional advocate” to argue against the government in significant cases before the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It will also set up a process for making significant FISC decisions public.

Declassified NSA files show agency spied on Muhammad Ali and MLK – Operation Minaret set up in 1960s to monitor anti-Vietnam critics, branded ‘disreputable if not outright illegal’ by NSA itself.

Cybercom Activates National Mission Force Headquarters – U.S. Cyber Command has activated the headquarters for its Cyber National Mission Force, the one of its three forces that would react to a cyber attack on the nation, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, Cybercom’s commander, said at the National Press Club today. Speaking at the 4th Annual Cybersecurity Summit, the general, who is also director of the National Security Agency, said Cybercom teams are now fully operational and working side by side with NSA to defend the nation. “We will ensure that we have the best force anywhere in the world,” Alexander said. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Shutting Down The US Government Likely Won’t Slow The NSA’s Surveillance Activities – Shutting down the U.S. government wouldn’t lead to the NSA halting its controversial, and broad surveillance efforts. Leaked documents by Edward Snowden recently detailed the financial cost of the NSA and other intelligence efforts. The CIA is the most expensive chunk of the U.S. “black budget,” costing $14.7 billion. The NSA costs $10.8 billion.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 26, 2013

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7″ vs. Google Nexus 7; Upgrading XP machine to Windows 8; Yelp: 20% of reviews are fake; SSD upgrades deliver huge performance gains; Microsoft cuts Xbox 360 price by $50; Popular iOS e-mail app has serious bug; Data Broker Giants Hacked; Target Ticket video service launches; John McAfee wants to make the Internet unhackable; Vatican: Jesus did Twitter before Twitter did Twitter.

Pew: 15% Of Americans Don’t Have Internet. 5% Think It’s Irrelevant – Five percent of Americans have resisted the siren song of cat listicles and hashtags. Specifically, they think the Internet is “irrelevant,” to use words of Pew, which just released a report on the demographic of Americans without Internet. In total, 15% of Americans don’t go online for a variety of reasons. By far the largest reason is that it’s a “waste of time”.

8 lessons learned from upgrading a dog-slow XP machine to Windows 8 – ZDNet’s David Gewirtz decides to upgrade a “dog-slow” Atom-based PC from the nearly dearly departed Windows XP to Windows 8. In the process, he learns a lot and shares some of those lessons with you in this article.

Beware of Yelp: 20% of reviews are fake – Back in 2006, the number of fake reviews spread across the service only made up about 5% of the total user reviews. Now, just seven years later, that number has shot up to 20%. One out of every five Yelp reviews are fake. The report comes out of Harvard Business School, and suggests that if you heavily rely on Yelp’s user reviews to determine the quality of an establishment, you should scale back that reliance.

Don’t Like DASH? Then YouTube Center is For You – Not too long ago, YouTube implemented a new way of streaming its videos. In the old days you would begin watching a YouTube stream and the buffer would fill up and keep streaming until it was full. Now, what happens is that you watch the video with a brief amount of buffer preceding what you are watching. That’s a great improvement over the older standards from the provider’s viewpoint, but it it isn’t worth a darn for the person who wants to watch in a variated way. Some people actually like to jump around when they watch a video and DASH doesn’t allow for that anymore.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Benchmarks don’t lie: SSD upgrades deliver huge performance gains – I’ve upgraded dozens of systems with solid-state drives. In every case I’ve gotten a “W” reaction, as in “Wow!” “Whoa!” and “No way!” (not to mention “Kewl!”). Given a relatively modern CPU, an SSD delivers more satisfaction than any upgrade I know. Don’t take my word for it, however: Believe the numbers.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7″ vs. Google Nexus 7: Small Tablets Compared – Amazon’s new 7-inch tablet shares the same price as Google’s Nexus 7, but how does it stack up in features?

Chrome users oppose change to Google’s new tab page – Google yesterday started rolling out a redesigned new tab page for Chrome, making good on a promise from last month when it offered the revamp to users running rougher-edged versions of its browser. Most users gave the new look a failing grade. “Fail, fail, fail,” said Philip Wright, one of those who commented on the announcement. Google characterized the addition as a way to speed up search. (Stop fixing things that ain’t broke! Massive FAIL!)

Quick Tip: Two features in Windows 8.1 File Explorer you want to know about – The Windows 8 File Explorer has several features, which makes manipulating files a much more efficient experience.

Twitter Alerts Lets You Opt-in On Push Notifications From Emergency Organizations And NGOs During Crises – Twitter is rolling out a new system called Twitter Alerts today that lets you choose to receive special alerts from emergency accounts, government organizations and NGOs. The system is designed to expand on Twitter’s ‘Lifeline’ service which was offered to those in Japan suffering from the earthquake last year.

10 common-sense rules for end users and those who support them – Some things never change in the workplace. Users make mistakes and support has to fix them. Revisit these common-sense rules to reduce the headaches.

Oxford’s Practical English Usage Guide Comes to Android – The interactive version of grammarian Michael Swan’s authoritative guide to English usage questions which bedevil even the most advanced speakers is now available on Google Play.

Google Chrome update: How to access apps and recently closed tabs – Just last month I pointed out three handy (but often-overlooked) Google Chrome features, one of which was how to access tabs you’ve recently closed. Today, Google rolled out a Chrome update that not only relocates that useful option, but also simplifies the browser’s new-tab interface.

Microsoft cuts Xbox 360 price by $50 for a limited time – For a limited time you can pick up a brand new Xbox 360 with $50 slashed off the usual price and/or $50 of Xbox Live credit included in the purchase. The participating retailers include Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, NFM, Target, and Walmart, but the offer varies depending on which of those you decide to purchase from.

YouTube Launches Free Audio Library With 150 Royalty-Free Tracks – YouTube currently offers more than 150,000 audio tracks on its site that video producers can use as background music for their videos. Those tracks, however, can’t be downloaded or remixed, which makes it hard to use them in creative ways. For users who want to do a bit more with their background music, however, YouTube today is expanding this library with a selection of 150 new royalty-tracks.

Ad-skipping is still legal, despite Fox’s best effort – Fox Broadcasting lawyers made an all-out push earlier this year to knock the newest version of Dish’s ad-skipping Hopper DVR off the market, but they have failed. A Los Angeles federal judge has weighed the competing briefs of both companies and decided the product can remain on the market while litigation proceeds, according to a Dish statement. The actual order remains under seal, so the legal reasoning remains opaque, for now. A redacted order will likely be published soon.

Apple Maps steers oblivious motorists onto airport runway – The embattled Google Maps alternative is just starting to shrug off the stigma of past problems, but this week it had another high-profile bug: it steered unwary motorists onto an airport runway.


Popular iOS e-mail app acquired by Dropbox has serious bug, researcher warns – In a blog post published Wednesday, Michele Spagnuolo of Italy said that Mailbox for iOS will execute any JavaScript code embedded in the body of an HTML-formatted e-mail. A video shows how the bug can be exploited to open iOS apps without user prompting, simply by viewing a booby-trapped message. His post said the damage could be much more severe.

Android Remote Access Trojan AndroRAT is Cheaper, More Dangerous Than Ever – AndroRAT, a piece of Android malware that gives a hacker total control of your phone, can be hidden in any app with just a few clicks. But now it’s free, and it’s spreading.

Data Broker Giants Hacked by ID Theft Service – An identity theft service that sells Social Security numbers, birth records, credit and background reports on millions of Americans has infiltrated computers at some of America’s largest consumer and business data aggregators. Two of the hacked servers were inside the networks of Atlanta, Ga.-based LexisNexis Inc., a company that according to Wikipedia maintains the world’s largest electronic database for legal and public-records related information. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Using heartbeats as passwords to secure medical devices – It is time to start thinking of our hearts as random number generators that can serve as passwords to secure medical devices that are vulnerable to hacking, US researchers at Rice University have proposed.

The Sky is Not Falling–It’s Fallen – The security community didn’t invent the concept of fear, uncertainty and doubt, but it has perfected it and raised it to the level of religion. It’s the way that security products are marketed and sold, but it’s also the way that the intelligence community justifies its extra-legal and, in some cases, unconstitutional, data-gathering practices. Just as vendors use the specter of catastrophic hacks, data loss and public embarrassment to push their wares, the NSA and its allies have used the dark shadow of 9/11 and global terrorism to justify their increasingly aggressive practices, some of which have now been shown to have deliberately weakened some of the fundamental building blocks of security.

Company News:

Target Ticket video service launches to the public, offers digital downloads – Late last month, a tip surfaced claiming that Target would be opening its Target Ticket video service to the general public soon, taking it out the previously closed beta it was in. Fast forward a few weeks, and such has proved to be the case, with the new video service officially exiting beta and being available to all who want to try it out.

Cloud security alliance releases cloud controls matrix, version 3.0 – The CCM Version 3.0 expands its control domains to address changes in cloud security risks since the release of the CSA’s seminal guidance domain, “Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing version 3.0” while making strides towards closer harmonization of the two.

BlackBerry cancels earnings call after buyout offer – Struggling handset maker still plans to reveal its second-quarter financial results but doesn’t want to talk about them in light of offer to take the company private.

Valve announces Steam Machines; opens beta testing sign-ups – Valve has officially announced plans to allow up to 300 outside beta testers to get their hands on a free prototype of what Valve calls a Steam Machine, which will be made by several companies in 2014

Valve To Launch A Prototype Steam Box/Multiple Steam Machines In 2014 – Following the announcement of SteamOS, Valve just unveiled the long-anticipated Steam Box — sort of. Instead of releasing a Valve-branded Steam Box, the company will actually work with multiple manufacturers to release a series of Steam machines for your living room. Yet, Valve also presented a specific prototype, a Steam machine designed by Valve.

EU says Google antitrust decision close – The European Commission’s antitrust chief says a decision on Google’s antitrust case is near — and warned that because the search giant’s share is larger in the EU, it will not follow its American counterpart’s earlier decision.

Microsoft is developing a games console just for China – There’s much more chance of success in China if you work with a Chinese company, and Microsoft has chosen to do exactly that for this new games console. A new company has been created called E-Home Entertainment Development that is only 49 percent owned by Microsoft. The other 51 percent is controlled by Chinese company BesTV New Media Co.

Google creates network for tech startups – Google announced today it is building a network for tech entrepreneurs in seven North American cities. The venture, dubbed Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network, is focused on connecting emerging local tech companies and leaders with each other, as well as with resources at Google. The company is partnering with tech hubs in Chicago, Denver; Detroit, Durham, N.C., Minneapolis, Nashville and Waterloo, Ontario.

Games and Entertainment:

Dead on Arrival 2 Shambles into Google Play with More Zombie Slaying Action – If you thought the zombie genre was no longer cool, the release of Dead on Arrival 2 for Android devices should set you straight. This is a top-down action shooter that pits you against wave after wave of the undead.

Disabled gamer: The inspirational story of Keith ‘Aieron’ Knight – A filmmaker, browsing Reddit, reads about a popular League of Legends disabled gamer and creates a Kickstarter-funded documentary about him.

Sony tweets new peeks at PlayStation 4 – Posted late Tuesday on Twitter by PlayStation Community Manager Chris Owen, the images reveal the deep-blue screens for the PS4 and its companion mobile app. One screenshot shows a video capture of a PS4 game in action, another displays a “Live Stream” screen, and a third takes a peek at the video-edit menu.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How Google could have made the Web secure — and failed – Google confirmed it made a change to better protect the privacy of how people search. However, it left loopholes in that protection and once again failed to seize an opportunity to encourage all sites to go secure.

John McAfee wants to make the Internet unhackable – The man who began in antivirus software intends to make the Internet float, so that no hacker can ever bathe in its frailties.

EasyJet stopped customer from boarding plane due to criticism of airline on Twitter – If you’re wondering how an airline could’ve picked Leiser out of a crowd based on a tweet, our guess is they were simply monitoring EasyJet mentions, saw Leiser’s tweet, then searched for a photo of him — which would’ve only taken a few seconds in this day and age. It’s a story of he-said-airline-said, but it’s not too farfetched that an insulted manager would take frustration out on the source of that frustration.

Yeah, You Did: Man Uses Nipple to Unlock iPhone Instead of Fingerprint – Please witness a man awkwardly training his iPhone 5s fingerprint sensor using his own nipple for, oh, about a minute or so. He then unlocks his phone using his nippleprint (new word!). What happens when his friend tries to unlock the phone with an unknown nipple? It won’t unlock.

Vatican: Jesus did Twitter before Twitter did Twitter – A Vatican cardinal insists that it wasn’t Jack Dorsey, but Jesus Christ who invented the short, pithy message.

Study: Internet sales tax software will be costly to implement – As several U.S. lawmakers and retail groups renew their efforts to get Congress to approve an Internet sales tax, opponents countered Wednesday with a study saying sales tax collection software would cost medium-sized Web-based sellers $80,000 to $290,000 to set up and another $57,500 to $260,000 a year in fees, auditing expense and other costs.

Mayday! Mayday! Amazon’s On-Demand Support Could Be A Scaling Nightmare – What happens when it’s easier to call tech support than to Google your problem? Amazon might discover the costly answer to that question depending on how much the owners of its new Kindle Fire HDX tablets use its Mayday on-demand video customer support feature. And whether they behave themselves.

Something to think about:

The proposition that the people are the best keepers of their own liberties is not true. They are the worst conceivable, they are no keepers at all; they can neither judge, act, think, or will, as a political body.”

–      John Adams

Today’s Free Downloads:

VLC media player 2.1.0 – VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network. It doesn’t need any external codec or program to work.

Comodo Personal Firewall – Secure your system against internal attacks such as Trojan viruses / malicious software and external attacks by hackers. Comodo Personal Firewall is the powerful and effective, easy to manage barrier that keeps hackers out and personal information in. Comodo Personal Firewall helps you connect in a secure way to the internet and global networks.

Digital Home Server – The Digital Home Server (DHS) is a FREE home automation and multimedia application which is easy to use, and aimed at non-technical users.DHS is actually a graphical framework with a number of applications. Some applications are small and can be dragged around the screen, others are full screen.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Post-NSA Revelations, Most Users Feel Less Safe – Some 65 percent of consumers, SMBs, large enterprises, and government agencies in the survey say they feel less safe now knowing that the NSA has access to electronic and phone records, while 26 percent are ambivalent, 4.5 percent feel safer, and 4 percent aren’t aware of the NSA program. They consider government the biggest threat to their online privacy, followed by corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Apple, according to the survey of some 7,900 users conducted by private cloud backup and sharing provider SpiderOak.

Meet the machines that steal your phone’s data – From Arizona to California, Florida to Texas, state and federal authorities have been quietly investing millions of dollars acquiring clandestine mobile phone surveillance equipment in the past decade. Earlier this year, a covert tool called the “Stingray” that can gather data from hundreds of phones over targeted areas attracted international attention. Rights groups alleged that its use could be unlawful.

Lavabit shutdown case request for unsealing submitted, may shed light on hidden matters – In the beginning of August, Ladar Levison shut down his Lavabit email service without warning, citing the reasons as being related to the government and a requirement that would make him “complicit in crimes against the American people.” The case has been sealed and Levison is under gag order, greatly limiting any details he can provide on what went down. That may change soon, with Lavabit requesting a partial unsealing so that others can file amicus briefs.

Egnyte jumps on PRISM frenzy with its own ‘prevention’ program – The National Security Agency’s PRISM data mining program has stirred up hysteria with consumers and businesses alike, which ironically in itself could present a business opportuntity for tech security companies. Enterprise cloud service provider Egnyte is jumping on that interest with a new “PRISM prevention program,” promising to detect cloud file sharing services and content that are unapproved by the company’s IT department.

Senators to introduce comprehensive NSA and secret court reform bill – “Secret courts were one of the reasons that we rebelled against the English.” – Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and three other senators have taken up the charge of surveillance reform, announcing on Thursday afternoon their plans to introduce new legislation that would put a halt to the bulk metadata collection program and implement Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) reform, among other changes.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 25, 2013

The Best Antivirus for 2013; How to sniff out counterfeit tech; Sell Your Phone for the Most Money; Firefox burns Chrome; SkyDrive stumbles; 5 free compression tools; Create a system image in Windows 8; iPhone users are falling for fake waterproof iOS 7 ad; SteamOS destroys Microsoft.

The unreal deal: How to sniff out counterfeit tech – Fake phones, tablets, and apps are a multimillion-dollar business. Avoid scammers with these smart techniques.

Miracast: Everything to know about mirroring Android – Acting like a wireless HDMI cable, Miracast mirrors your Android device onto your TV screen in high definition and with audio. Once Miracast is enabled, everything — from the general interface, to apps and videos — is duplicated on the big screen without the burden of a cable connecting the two devices. Its differentiating quality? It doesn’t rely on your home’s Wi-Fi network. But, it’s not magic — let’s lift the hood to see how Miracast works.

Android users can lock lost devices remotely – Google’s Android Device Manager lets users remotely lock a lost or stolen device with a new password.

Firefox burns Chrome in our trustworthy browser poll – About a month ago I asked Naked Security readers: Which web browser do you trust? Your answer was emphatic: it’s Firefox, and it accrued almost twice the number of votes of its nearest rival, Google Chrome.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to create a system image in Windows 8 – Creating a Windows system image can be a very useful way to back up your system and a good way to migrate to a new storage drive.

How to Sell Your Phone for the Most Money – So how do you know just what your old phone is worth? We checked all of the major options and priced out what we’d get by selling a 16GB iPhone 5 on AT&T in good working condition. But before we dive into where to sell, here are some general rules of thumb on what these buyers will — and won’t — pay for

Sold Android App Makes Selling Old Gear a Snap – Sold is a service that takes all the hassle out of selling your old gear by making quick cash offers on a variety of items. They’ll even send you a box for shipping. The new Android app has arrived to make it even easier to turn your old stuff into money.

Three tools for better task management in Google Apps – You need a system to track your calendar, project lists, and actionable tasks. Here are three suggestions for Google Apps users.

SkyDrive stumbles, becomes latest cloud app to get glitchy – Another day, another cloud app gets stung by a bug. Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service began malfunctioning on Tuesday afternoon, a day after Google’s Gmail got tripped by a network breakdown.

Google fixes lengthy, widespread Gmail glitch – A Gmail glitch that took about 10 hours to fix and hit close to 50 percent of the webmail service’s users has been fixed, ending one of the longest, most widespread Gmail disruptions in years.

Wrangle your smart home devices with Staples Connect – The promise of a product like Staples Connect is that it eliminates that complexity by funneling those devices through a single, broadly compatible wireless hub and into a centralizing mobile control app. Instead of the user installing multiple hubs and adjusting device settings among four or five different apps, Staples Connect will consolidate everything into one app, and one hardware hub.

5 free compression tools zip your files just dandy – If you’re willing to fork over some cash, you can opt for a commercial compression application, such as WinZip or WinRAR. But each sells for about $30. Luckily, these paid applications aren’t your only options when it comes to compression tools. There are some fantastic free alternatives out there. Some are even open source.

The Best Antivirus for 2013 – Most antivirus vendors that run on a yearly update schedule wait until the fall to release the next year’s version, just like car manufacturers. So, the “2014 models” appear in the fall of 2013. As new versions arrive, most of the same products retain their positions at the top of the heap. Here are the best from the current crop of antivirus products.

YouTube gets the yuck out in comments cleanup – YouTube video comments can be a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but Google is arming uploaders with Google+ comment moderation powers.

You can now make an audio-only call using FaceTime – With iOS 7, you’ll be able to place audio-only calls through FaceTime, eliminating the need to watch minutes (but you’ll need to monitor data usage if you’re not on Wi-Fi).

Facebook Now Testing ‘Autofill’ Mobile Payments – Facebook this week rolled out a test version of its mobile payments system, which will allow users to use financial data stored within the social network to auto-fill when they buy.

BitTorrent returns to Google search’s auto-complete – After striving to rework its image and prove it doesn’t deal in piracy, BitTorrent is quietly allowed back into the Web giant’s auto-complete search suggestions.


Siri offers the latest backdoor into your iPhone – just ask nicely! – We really didn’t want to write another Apple iOS 7 story. But with reports surfacing that HAL’s smooth-talking stepsister Siri lets you talk your way into a locked iPhone, we couldn’t help it.

iPhone users are falling for fake waterproof iOS 7 ad – You don’t have to be an expert in all things tech to use a smartphone, nor do you have to spend your days reading technology blogs. However, it’s probably important that people not act too rashly when they are casual users. For example, dunking your phone in water because you saw an ad claiming iOS 7 added waterproofing is certainly an ill-conceived course of action. But that’s just what some people are apparently doing.

Yahoo recycled ID users warn of security risk – Users of Yahoo’s recycled ID names say they are receiving the former owner’s sensitive information through their new accounts.

Virginia Tech breach exposes data on 145K job applicants – University blames human error for compromise that exposed names, addresses, employment and education history

Teen privacy “eviscerated” by planned Facebook changes – A coalition of US groups that advocate for teenagers is crying foul over proposed changes to Facebook policy that would rubber-stamp the use of teenagers’ names, images and personal information to endorse products in advertisements.

Company News:

Twitter to be listed on NYSE for IPO – Earlier this month Twitter submitted the paperwork required for its IPO to commence. One bit of information that we didn’t know at the time Twitter announced it had filed its S-1 with the SEC for its IPO was which stock exchange would be handling the IPO for twitter. We have now learned that Twitter will be listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

ManageEngine Optimizes Oracle Database Monitoring at Oracle OpenWorld 2013 – For Applications Manager users, the move improves tuning and troubleshooting of Oracle systems by enhancing real-time visibility into the health and performance of Oracle databases and their related applications. ManageEngine is demonstrating Applications Manager and its new Oracle database monitoring enhancements at Oracle OpenWorld, which continues through September 26 at Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Apple updates iMac to Haswell processors – Apple has announced that it has updated its iMac lineup with the fourth generation Intel Core processors and latest Nvidia graphics cards along with a wide variety of storage options.

Cloud security alliance big data working group releases report on big data analytics for security intelligence – The new research report details how the landscape of security analytics is changing with the introduction and widespread use of new tools and opportunities for leveraging large quantities of structured and unstructured data. The initial report also outlines some of the fundamental differences from traditional analytics and highlights possible research directions in Big Data security.

Amazon distancing itself from Apple’s playbook with Kindle Fire HDX – Forget virtual assistants. Amazon is installing real people into the latest Kindle Fires.

Here’s how SteamOS destroys Microsoft – This week the gaming-centric company known as Valve has announced plans to release SteamOS, a living room-aimed operating system that will be free to download and free to license. This operating system is based on Linux architecture – similar to how Android is a Linux-based OS – and the company intends on expanding well beyond the confines of their current video games-based model with TV, movies, and music. Is Microsoft too big to fail? We’re about to find out.

Games and Entertainment:

EA’s FIFA 14 Launches in North America – Just as planned, Electronic Arts on Thursday announced that FIFA 14 is now available in retail stores through North America and as a digital download on Origin.

Surface Pro 2 Is Another Missed PC Gaming Opportunity for Microsoft – Despite the power of the Surface Pro 2, gaming barely got a mention at Microsoft’s press conference–let alone any kind of unique hook for PC gamers. If Microsoft has any ambitions to attack Steam on its main turf (which happens to be Microsoft’s operating system), we didn’t get the slightest whiff.

Researchers claim to identify risk-factors for video game addicts – New research from the University of Missouri indicates escapism, social interaction and rewards fuel problematic video-game use among “very casual” to “hardcore” adult gamers.

Angry Birds Star Wars II dives into the prequel trilogy – The sequel to Angry Birds’ foray into George Lucas’ epic movie franchise brings new characters, tons of new levels, and more of the same great gameplay.

Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack appears on iTunes and Google Play – The team at RockStar games have wasted no time capitalizing on the popularity of not only the game Grand Theft Auto V itself, but the music gamers are able to listen to inside the vehicles of the game.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why Scandinavian Prisons Are Superior – ‘Open’ prisons, in which detainees are allowed to live like regular citizens, should be a model for the U.S. (recommended by Michael F.)

How tech can make government more honest – A pilot program is underway in Jersey City, NJ to track employees’ use of city vehicles. As a New Jersey taxpayer I can only rejoice. Government ought to use tech more aggressively at all levels to fight waste and fraud.

Popular Science silences its comments section – Explaining that comments are bad for science and backing it up with — well, science — the 141-year-old magazine is shutting down the comments section on its Web site.

The Myth of Steve Jobs’ Constant Breakthroughs – Most of Apple’s improvements have always been incremental — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

This is an iPhone 5s getting shot by a .50 caliber rifle – Look, I have no idea what would compel someone to take a brand new electronic device and deliberately damage it. That dose comes courtesy of a Barrett Model 82A1 military rifle, which will run you about $9,000 and move a bullet up to 3,200 ft. per second, or about 975 meters per second.

Battery-free flashlight among Google Science Fair winners – Teens invent a warning system for approaching ambulances, banana peel bioplastics, and flu drug modeling.

Something to think about:

Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man and work like a dog.”

–     Caroline K. Simon

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android 3.0.6158 – avast! Mobile Security keeps your device safe from viruses, malware, and spyware. It helps you locate your lost phone through our web-based phone locate feature. Remote device lock and/or memory wipe in its advanced Anti-Theft component keep your data safe. Handy tools like network meter, app manager, and even firewall (on rooted phones) give you complete control of your mobile phone.

NeoRouter Free – The NeoRouter Free application was designed to help you manage and connect to all your computers from anywhere. It gracefully integrates Remote Access, File Sharing, Virtual Private Network, User and Access Management.

iSpy – iSpy uses your webcams and microphones to detect and record movement or sound and provides security, surveillance, monitoring and alerting services. Any media that is captured is compressed to flash video and made available, securely over the web. iSpy can be setup to run on multiple computers simultaneously. iSpy is free, open-source software, so if you want it to do anything else, please download the source code and customise it to your requirements.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Cancel data sharing deal with US, EU politicians urge – European politicians on Tuesday demanded that a broad data-sharing agreement between the U.S. and the European Union be suspended, following allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency illegally tapped banking data.

Dropbox, LinkedIn Join Fight for Data Request Transparency – The file-sharing company today filed a legal brief with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), arguing that it should have the right to publish the number of national security-related requests it receives. The move comes shortly after LinkedIn did the same last week.

Former senators say Congress needs to rein in the NSA – The current process of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approving massive data collection requests from the NSA isn’t protecting privacy and civil liberties, said former Senators Walter Mondale and Gary Hart, both Democratic members of the so-called Church Committee that investigated intelligence abuses in the mid-1970s.

Senators Demand Answers On NSA Snooping — By The End Of 2014 – This almost sounds compelling: A bipartisan group of Senators demanding that the intelligence wing of the United States government take a hard look at itself and report its findings to the public. Of course, asking a consummate intelligence insider to vet his own team isn’t exactly exciting.

How much influence can the UN have over online spying? – While the UN General Assembly and other international bodies like the International Telecommunications Union theoretically have some influence on global Internet policy, the reality is that countries are already blocking whatever they want and spying on whomever they want, with hardly any consequences.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 24, 2013

Secure your Facebook account; Gmail hit by message delivery delays;  Five free programs for Google Apps;  Search engine bias?;  Valve Introduces SteamOS,  Microsoft’s Surface 2 And Surface Pro 2,  Bruce Schneier: NSA Spying Is Making Us Less Safe.

Using IP cameras to create a security system – Not all security is in software, and Tony McSherry shows how to make a home camera system on the cheap.

Search engine bias: What search results are telling you (and what they’re not) – Search-engine bias affects our perception of what online information is available, is that a good thing or not? Are there risks?

Search files in a flash with SwiftSearch – Check out SwiftSearch, a free, portable search utility that’s remarkably small and remarkably fast. With it you can find just about any file, on any drive, in about the time it takes to read this sentence. In fact, forget sentence; the time it takes to read this word!

Camgirls account for 20% of the entire porn business – It’s as anonymous as anonymous can be, and the internet lets you can access porn right when the mood strikes and shame hasn’t yet taken hold. Because of this, the internet sector of the porn industry is massive — and the porn industry with everything else is even bigger. That’s why it’s incredible that webcam porn — camgirls and boys and whatever else — account for 20% of the entire industry.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Apache OpenOffice 4.0 review: New features, easier to use, still free – Apache OpenOffice is a full suite of office applications: word processor, database, spreadsheet, presentation, and graphics. Each of them is full-featured and robust. Though not always matching Microsoft Office in terms of maximum bells and whistles, each application goes far beyond the basics in its class. Not bad for a free suite.

High-tech outdoor gear to help you fight (and win!) against Mother Nature – Many of us insist on venturing far from the safety and comfort of civilization to camp out in the great outdoors—for fun. If you are indeed foolish enough to try your lot out there, then please—please!—take a moment to read through this list of high-tech (and mostly affordable) outdoor gear designed to help you survive a direct confrontation with Mother Nature. Godspeed, nature lover.

Gmail hit by message delivery delays, close to 50% of users affected – A bug bit Gmail on Monday and almost half of the webmail service’s users have been affected by the problem, which causes email delivery delays and problems downloading attachments.

Hands-on with Kidoodle.TV, a Netflix just for kids – A new contender has entered the ring, with a kids-only streaming service called Kidoodle.TV launching Monday as a free beta for those in the U.S. and Canada. After playing with it for a few days, I can say it shows some promise, and will be even more useful if it extends beyond the desktop with mobile and console apps. (Although free while in beta, the final service will cost $5 a month.)

Now even supermarket chains are making cheap Android tablets – Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain and the world’s second-most-profitable retailer behind Walmart, has announced it is launching an Android tablet. The device mostly runs stock Android 4.2.2 (including the Google Apps), but Tesco has added a small “T” to the left side of the system bar that will bring up an app for Tesco’s myriad services.

Up Close And Personal With Microsoft’s Surface 2 And Surface Pro 2 – Now that the dust from Microsoft’s Surface event has settled, we’re left with two new tablets and one grand vision for the holidays — with three Surfaces now on the market, Microsoft has carved out a seemingly strong position for itself as people began to plan for some big purchases.

Five free programs for Google Apps you should check out – The Google Apps Marketplace offers plenty of free enhancements to Google Apps. Here are five programs which can help your business at zero cost.

The Peachy Printer is a $100 3D printer and scanner – The premiere consumer-level 3D printers from the likes of MakerBot cost around $2,000. A new project seeking crown funding on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo called the Peachy Printer promises to deliver a functional 3D printer for a fraction of that price — just $100.

Google begins barring browser plug-ins from Chrome – Reliant on plug-ins like Silverlight, Unity, and Java? Make plans to move on or change browsers, because most plug-ins will be banned from Chrome in the next year. Most Chrome plug-ins (not to be confused with the lighter-weight add-on option called extensions) use a technology that predate Google’s browser by years.

Microsoft adds 200GB SkyDrive option for $100 a year – Microsoft has officially added a new storage option for its SkyDrive cloud service, allowing anyone to store up to 200 GB of photos and documents on their account for $100 a year.

Apple TV 6.0 Update Returns With iTunes Match In Tow After Buggy First Version Pulled – Apple has re-issued the 6.0 update for Apple TV devices it released last week, after the original version’s many problems including slow downloads, library loss and even some apparent bricking led the company to pull it from servers.


Secure your Facebook account – View your Facebook profile as the public and your friends see it, and then use Facebook’s global settings to restrict access to and use of your posts, photos, and other information.

New York Attorney General sets up sting operation to crackdown on fake online reviews – Fake and misleading reviews are everywhere online, and now New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will be announcing a crackdown on a number of groups engaged in illegitimate review practices. A report from the New York Times says that the Attorney General has come to terms with some 19 different companies, forcing them to pay fines to a tune of around $350,000 in total, on top of forcing them to stop the deceiving practices. (recommended by Aseem S.)

Amazon service popular among pedophiles for distributing illicit images – Amazon’s web hosting service is under scrutiny after it was found to be providing a breeding ground for illicit images. Some images have been found to violate level five of the scale of child abuse.

Lucky Kids: California Gives Minors the Right to Delete Things They Put Online – The Golden State becomes the first state to demand that children have an “eraser button” online. Coming as part of a bigger minor-focused bill that prohibits targeted online marketing of products like alcohol and firearms, the erasing provision states that any minor in the state of California be able “to remove … content or information posted on the operator’s Internet Web site, online service, online application, or mobile application.”

Company News:

Valve Introduces SteamOS, A Linux-Based Platform To Bring Steam To Your Living Room – Valve just announced the first part of its living room strategy with SteamOS, a free Linux-based operating system that takes the ‘Big Picture’ feature one step further. In addition to playing your game collection, SteamOS allows you to watch movies and listen to music.

Qualcomm former executive vice president charged in financial scheme – Qualcomm former executive vice president, Jing Wang, has been indicted by the U.S. government for obstruction of a federal investigation and for the use of insider information in a financial scheme for tax evasion and ill-gotten wealth. The former executive is no longer working at Qualcomm, reports Reuters, and was arrested earlier today by the FBI.

BlackBerry Signs Letter Of Intent To Go Private For $9 Per Share In Deal Valued At $4.7 Billion – Today BlackBerry announced a $9 per share offer for its outstanding stock, a deal worth around $4.7 billion. The $9 per share price is a slight premium over its current stock price, which traded at $8.23 before it was halted pending the news.

Poor Sales In India Force Maps Provider Sygic To Release Navigation App For Free – App developers are struggling to make money in India because of low credit card penetration, according to Michael Stencl, CEO of maps provider Sygic, which has now dropped the $5.58 fee to download its GPS navigation app.

Nokia scores victory over HTC in patent lawsuit, seeks to block certain devices – When it comes to patents, it seems there is always one big tech company suing another, claiming violation and damages over the use of technology that is in some way infringing. One such recent lawsuit came from Nokia over rival HTC, which filed a patent suit against the company claiming some of its smartphones and tablets were infringing, something a preliminary ruling has agreed with.

Games and Entertainment:

Virtual Reality Gaming Gets Real with EVE: Valkyrie on Oculus Rift – For months now, I’ve been reading raves for Oculus Rift, the virtual-reality gaming headset that’s among the most famous Kickstarter projects. One of them came from my own colleague Lev Grossman. Like many folks, he got downright giddy after receiving a demo. On Friday, I finally tried the headset for myself. And even though my expectations were sky-high, it exceeded them. It really is spectacular.

GTA V is crashing Xbox 360s manufactured before 2009 – There’s growing frustration on the unofficial from gamers who own Xbox 360 consoles manufactured between 2005 and 2009. These consoles typically shipped with 20GB or 60GB hard drives and were the most prone to the Red Ring of Death (RRoD) issue. GTA V isn’t causing any RRoDs as far as I can tell, but it isn’t playable for more than 30 minutes on certain machines.

Rockstar Investigating GTA 5’s Missing Vehicles Glitch – Stolen cars are an implicit part of the Grand Theft Auto gameplay, but disappearing vehicles seem to be an unintended consequence of new GTA 5 upgrades. Some players reported missing cars following an upgrade and a completed mission, saying that they found their virtual garage empty.

Tanktastic is the Closest You’ll Get to World of Tanks on iOS and Android – Tanktastic is a 3D massively multiplayer online game (MMO) that puts you in the driver’s seat of digital recreations of over 40 real tanks in an all out fight to the death. This game offers combat that’s very easy to get into, and it’s free-to-play.

Hands On With Batman: Arkham Origins, More – Comic book video games might be getting consistently good with three upcoming sequels: Batman: Arkham Origins, Scribblenauts Unmasked, and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Oracle refuses to pay $33,540 strip club bill – Oracle is facing a lawsuit stemming from a $33k strip club bill that one of its employees racked up at last year’s OpenWorld conference and that the company is now refusing to pay.

Computer simulations suggest war drove the rise of civilizations – According to British historian Arnold Toynbee, “History is just one damned thing after another.” But Peter Turchin of the University of Connecticut in Storrs questions this premise then tries to answer it in a new study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He and his colleagues show history may be deterministic to a certain extent. And their computer simulations show that warfare may have been the main driver behind the formation of empires, bureaucracies, and religions.

Part of Apollo 12 rocket engine returns after decades in deep space – This incredibly cool gif shows the remarkable path taken by debris from the Apollo mission as it approached Earth for the first time in 31 years. For 31 years this piece of debris circled the sun, but in the early 2000′s it wandered a little too close to the Earth and entered the planet’s Hill Sphere.

Interview: Steve Wozniak on new iPhones, smart watches, Google Glass, and more – Ahead of his conversation on stage at Apps World with’s editor Nate Lanxon, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak spoke to us about his view on new iPhones, wearable technologies, the future of apps, and Google Glass.

Google Constitute unveiled as site to explore the world’s constitutions – Google, with support coming from the Comparative Constitutions Project have announced Constitute. This newly launched site provides access to digitized copies of the world’s constitutions. And as a side effect, also makes these same constitutions browsable and searchable. In fact, it was shown that you will be able to narrow searches down to specific topics and even specific time periods.

NY Installs ‘Text Stops’ Along State Highways – New York State is taking an unconventional step toward curbing distracted driving.

Something to think about:

If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.”

–     Mary Kay Ash

Today’s Free Downloads:

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit (formerly ExploitShield) 0.9.3 – Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit BETA, formerly ExploitShield, protects you from zero-day exploits targeting browser and application vulnerabilities. Its proprietary technology shields your browser and applications in that critical period between the release of a new exploit and its subsequent security patch. Easy to install and lightweight. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit BETA now and crush the most dangerous breed of malware attack.

Wise Game Booster – Wise Game Booster is a free game speedup tool. Users can use it to boost up games by improving PC performance. With one click optimization, users can easily do this even novices. For advanced users, it is possible to manually close processes and unnecessary Windows services, and also do other optimizations. Add the games into “my games”, and then you don’t need to find the game from crowded desktop icons.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Bruce Schneier: NSA Spying Is Making Us Less Safe – The security researcher Bruce Schneier, who is now helping the Guardian newspaper review Snowden documents, suggests that more revelations are on the way.

NSA surveillance goes beyond Orwell’s imagination – ‘All sorts of people around the world are questioning what America is doing,’ Alan Rusbridger told an audience in New York. Speaking in the wake of a series of revelations in the Guardian about the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance operations, Rusbridger said: “Orwell could never have imagined anything as complete as this, this concept of scooping up everything all the time.

These 12 Bills Are the NSA’s Worst Nightmare – These pending bills seek to keep the NSA from sweeping up phone records en masse, take the rubber stamp away from the top-secret spy court that approves surveillance requests, and allow tech companies to tell the public more about the government requests they receive for user data, among other things. Here’s a guide to 12 pending bills that target US government spying (collected with help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation ).

Keep Calm, Keep Encrypting — With A Few Caveats – The NSA’s systematic crypto-cracking and other tactics have changed the data-protection game for enterprises. Encryption remains a key security tool despite newly leaked documents revealing the National Security Agency’s efforts to bend crypto and software to its will in order to ease its intelligence-gathering capabilities, expert say. But these latest NSA revelations serve as a chilling wake-up call for enterprises to rethink how they lock down their data.

Federal Cybersecurity Professionals To Leadership: We Can Do Better – MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT, today announced the results of its new report, “FISMA Fallout: The State of the Union.” The report, underwritten by NetApp, examines the state of cyber security at Federal agencies and looks at whether the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is hurting or helping agencies improve cyber security and protect data. According to the report, Federal cyber security professionals lack confidence in FISMA, and do not believe their agencies’ current cyber security solutions are sufficient and sustainable.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 23, 2013

20 steps to a lean, clean machine – If your legacy laptop is showing signs of age, it could simply need some basic maintenance. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how to clean out your system.

How to get an extra 10GB of Google Drive space for free – Google gives all comers 15 gigabytes’ worth of free storage across Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Plus Photos. Not a bad chunk of space just for having a heartbeat. Of course, more is always better, especially when you don’t have to pay for it. And Google is now offering exactly that, though there are a couple small catches. From now through Sept. 26, you have the opportunity to score an extra 10GB of Google Drive space, no extra charge.

8 Reasons You Should Consider Switching to Android – I expected to dislike the operating system, or at least come away with proof that iOS is definitively better. But after just a month of using Android part-time, I fell in love it. Here’s why.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Introducing Apple’s New “Kids” App Store – Apple has finally take steps to better cater to the children who have adopted its devices, and especially family favorite the iPad, with the launch of a Kids App Store. Arriving this week alongside the launch of iOS 7, the Kids App Store store is not a separate mobile application, to be clear, but is rather a new section within the Apple App Store itself, which now features an added “Kids” category where apps are broken down by age range.

Send money with Google Wallet on Android and iOS – Google revamped its Wallet application to allow users to send money to anyone in the US for free. Here’s how you can get started.

Watch Live TV On the Go With Verizon FiOS App – Balancing scheduled TV shows and a busy schedule can be a hassle, but Verizon FiOS now lets you bring live programming on the go. Mobile FiOS app users can now watch up to nine TV channels wherever and whenever, even away from home — including BBC America, BBC World News, EPIX, NFL Network (tablet only), Tennis Channel, Food Network, and Travel Channel — depending on their current FiOS TV package.

Building a better password: Simple changes add strength – Security threats have evolved beyond recognition, but our capacity to remember passwords has remained unchanged. We are still able to remember just two or three passwords, and most people choose relatively short and rather predictable passwords in order to be able to recall them. Password managers address this problem, but come with their own problems. What if malware breaks in and steals all the passwords?

Search results become 3D-printed objects for blind users – Want a giraffe? At a school for the blind in Japan, kids’ online search results become real-world objects.

5 launcher apps to give your Android phone a fresh new look – It’s a matter of taste, but the interface that your Android phone comes saddled with may not always be the most appealing, and that’s why there are myriad launcher apps available in the Google Play store. These apps customize the way the interface looks and operates, and even streamline animations as you pan between screens.

Five free alternative web browsers for Windows – There are other alternative web browsers that deserve a fair look. Here are five solid alternative browser choices.

Disable the Password Reveal Button on the Windows 8 logon screen – You can disable the Password Reveal Button on the Windows 8 logon screen with a registry tweak or with an edit by to the Local Group Policy.


IE exploit covers all recent versions, hits most businesses – A zero day flaw in Internet Explorer (IE) that impacts all versions of the browser is being actively exploited in the wild, Microsoft reports. Exploits seem to have focused on IE versions 8 and 9, according to Microsoft. But researchers at Websense have discovered that nearly 70 percent of Windows business users are susceptible to this IE zero-day exploit.

Hackers Bypass Apple’s Touch ID With Lifted Fingerprint – If somebody is willing to go through all of this to break into your phone, chances are you have bigger issues than fingerprint security. Also, given that most iPhone users probably don’t even use a PIN code to secure their devices today, Touch ID still marks a massive step forward in smartphone security — even given the remote chance that somebody would lift your fingerprint and go through the trouble of bypassing it.

Sen. Franken seeks data on privacy controls in iPhone 5S fingerprint tech – Lawmaker seeks answers to a list of ‘substantial privacy questions’ sent to Apple CEO Cook.

Security Snippets: Australian IT pros share their security stories – Earlier this month, ZDNet Australia held a panel discussion in Sydney, bringing five high-ranking IT officers together to talk about the most pertinent security issues facing their organisations. The ability to trust people in the organisation was identified as a significant issue for all, but each security guru had their own idea of what measures help them sleep at night.

Bike Thieves, Beware! – Britain’s Integrated Trackers puts a GPS tracker inside various bike parts where thieves may not expect—for example, under the top cap, inside the seat, or in the light. You “arm” the GPS when you walk away, just as you would lock your car. If your bike gets stolen, it sends an SMS to your phone and you can begin to track the movement of your bike for a fee through the service. It’s not quite anti-theft but it is certainly pro-recovery.

Stop webcam spies with free, 3D-printed “RAT TRAP” – The RAT TRAP, a small plastic rodent that clips over the top of a laptop screen and blocks the camera. Slide it to the side and the camera is usable again. If the RAT TRAP is less practical than a piece of tape—which can remain on when closing the laptop lid—it’s still a clever idea from a set of advertising creatives in the Boulder, Colo. area. Rather than sell the little critter, the group developed it as a digital file suitable for 3D printing and gives it away freely under a Creative Commons license.

Company News:

LinkedIn sued by users who say it hacked their e-mail accounts – Four plaintiffs filed a class-action suit in US district court in San Jose on Friday claiming that LinkedIn used its member’s identities without consent and broke into their third party e-mail accounts to send promotional e-mails to the members’ contact lists. The 46-page complaint details many instances in which users complained to LinkedIn about this practice, especially in instances where LinkedIn sent e-mails to “the addresses of spouses, clients, opposing counsel, etc.”

Valve expected to finally release details of its home console – Valve will make three—that’s right, three—announcements related to the Steam Box (if that’s indeed its name) next week, presumably on Monday when the site’s 72-hour countdown expires. Valve’s site also says “Soon, we’ll be adding you to our design process,” so it looks like beta hardware might come first before the actual console gets into people’s hands. But that’s just a guess.

Microsoft inches toward Office on iPad, Android tablets – Microsoft executives last week came the closest yet to saying that the company will release Office on iPads and Android tablets, but stopped short of specifics.

$116 laser 3D printer lights up Kickstarter – A Canadian start-up makes serious waves on Kickstarter with a cheap photolithographic-based 3D printer, part of a mega effort to drive down costs — and confusion — commonly associated with consumer 3D printing.

This could get noisy: New rule lets startups shout for money – The SEC on Monday will lift the ban on “general solicitation” and begin to allow companies to publicly talk about their fundraising efforts. Get ready to hear all about it.

Huawei to create 5,500 jobs in Europe, rebels against ‘groundless’ exile from US – In a bid to expand its reach in Europe, the Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer is due to embark on a hiring spree.

Games and Entertainment:

11 great PC co-op games to play with your buddies – Shooting aliens, robbing banks, and hopscotching wormholes are all more fun with friends. Load up a co-op game, and start making memories.

Grand Theft Auto V rakes in over $1 billion in three days – In more billion-dollar news this Friday (this time with a happier bent), the highly-anticipated Grand Theft Auto V has crossed the $1 billion threshold after being on sale for just three days. On its first day on shelves, the fifth installment of the 16-year-old franchise made $800 million.

Get the BioShock trilogy for only $20 until September 25 – Amazon rocks the gaming world with a killer deal on the legendary first-person shooter series Bioshock. Will you buy into the package?

Better Late Than Never, Madden 25 Tackles Google Play – After appearing on iOS a few weeks ago, Madden NFL 25 has arrived in Google Play. It has all the officially licensed players and teams, and the touch controls have been vastly improved.

Ignore the GTA 5 sceptics: adults do play video games – A recurring comment under our Grand Theft Auto V review was “do adults really play these things?” – here’s my response.

Microsoft confirms the Xbox One is not designed to stand vertically – It turns out the Xbox One doesn’t just share an x86 architecture with the original Xbox, it’s also a games console that will not stand vertically. That’s now been confirmed by Albert Panello, senior director for Microsoft’s Xbox division.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 most common excuses heard from end users – If you’ve worked in IT support for awhile, you’ve probably heard it all — the excuses from end users, that is. Do these sound familiar?

10 Things I Didn’t Know About Google – For this week’s TIME cover story on Google’s “moon shot” projects — including Calico, a new company that will research ways to extend human life. Much of what I learned made its way into the article. But I was also left with lots of interesting tidbits that didn’t get mentioned. Here are ten of them that I think are worth sharing.

Apple? They Make The Cheap Plastic Phones, Right? – Apple could learn a lot from the fall of Burberry. The once-exclusive fashion brand became associated with trashy youth by greedily licensing out its signature tan chequered pattern for use on baseball caps and other cheap clothes. Suddenly, the rich clientele it had catered to for a century wanted nothing to do with Burberry. Could Apple’s iPhone brand have the same trouble after selling the 5c?

Stephen Hawking: The afterlife is a fairy tale (but your brain might go on) – Speaking at the premiere of a documentary about his life, the famed physicist said the human brain might be able to be copied and therefore preserved. But the body? No chance.

You Win, Republicans. My GIF Reaction To Their GIF OpED – IFs are the hot new thing. News organization, which has staked its future on dozens of GIF and listicle posts a day, now has a staggering 85 million unique visitors a month. Attention-starved politicians want in on the action. So last week, Republicans published out a GIF-filled attack article against Democratic opposition to an oil pipeline. It was an instant success; the post snagged headlines from a dozen tech and mainstream outlets. The Internet went bananas. Here’s a sample of what the Energy and Commerce Committee put out (full post here).

Something to think about:

Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.

–     Malcolm Gladwell

Today’s Free Downloads:

FreeSysInfo 1.4.8 – FreeSysInfo allows you to discover system and network information on your local machine or network computer. The tool used WMI ( Windows Management Instrumentation ) to discover full NDIS information, wireless network status and type, network adapters, system processes and services, serial communications and display information, hardware and connections status, user and system accounts, proxy settings, shared resource information and more.

Wise Folder Hider 1.41.77 – Wise Folder Hider is a free file/folder hiding tool. User can use it to hide files and folders on local partitions or removable devices. The data can’t be accessed by other programs or on other operating systems such as DOS. The only way to access or unhide these data is to enter the valid password. However, this application is designed for home use only but not recommended for commercial settings which require stricter confidentiality.

SSuite – Dual View Portable 1.4 – This communication’s app is an ideal replacement for internet chat and video connections in companies, home networks, student campuses, or wherever it is needed. It is also able to create a private and secure peer-two-peer contact which will improve internal communications, business productivity, and relationships with friends and colleagues.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA seeks tighter ties to tech despite issues of data-sharing – The National Security Agency’s director of information assurance said the “way to achieve confidence in cyberspace” is to increase collaboration between the government and the high-tech industry—remarks that rang ironic given former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about how NSA works with industry.

Snowden docs now show Britain, not NSA, targeted Belgian telco – Citing documents provided by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday that it was actually the United Kingdom that was behind the recently disclosed malware infection at a major Belgian telco. Der Spiegel said that top secret documents from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the NSA, show that “Operation Socialist” was designed “to enable better exploitation of Belgacom.”

The NSA Review Panel Is An Even Bigger Joke Than We Previously Thought – Today the AP reported that President Barack Obama’s promised NSA review panel is channeling the entity that it is supposed to inspect, hiding behind layers of government bureaucracy and obfuscating its work. The AP states that the review panel is lodged in offices provided by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Even more, the DNI is running its media strategy, vetting requests through its own press office. Any whiff of independence that the group might have hoped to engender is now certainly gone.

NSA job post for ‘Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer’ goes live – The scandal surrounding the US National Security Agency is no laughing matter, of course. But it’s hard not to look for telling lines in the agency’s new job listing.

We don’t enable backdoors in our crypto products, RSA tells customers – RSA, the security firm that confirmed two of its products by default use a crucial cryptography component reportedly weakened by the National Security Agency, said such design choices are made independently. “RSA always acts in the best interest of its customers and under no circumstances does RSA design or enable any backdoors in our products,” the security division of EMC said in a brief statement published Friday. “Decisions about the features and functionality of RSA products are our own.”


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 20, 2013

The Top 30 Best Windows 8 Apps – Now with over 100,000 apps in the Windows Store, there are actually some good choices. Here are the top apps we think you should install on your Windows 8 PC.

5 Things You’ve Done That Are Probably Crimes – The United States—and the world—is plagued by dumb, stupid laws—so many in fact that there are two websites dedicated to the most ridiculous: Dumb Laws and Stupid Laws. But one area those sites don’t get into much is technology. Read on for five offenses you didn’t know were illegal and start prepping your defense should you need one. Maybe your case could change one of these dumb, redundant tech laws for the better.

Google makes Quickoffice free, throws in an extra 10GB of storage – Not to be overshadowed by Microsoft and Apple for their in-the-cloud document curation services, Google announced that Quickoffice is now free for iOS and Android users. The company also plans to bundle in 10GB of free storage for Google Drive for anyone who logs into their Google account from the app by September 26.

PC security, NSA-style: 7 tips from the spymasters – If you’re like most users, you take your privacy seriously. So we went right to the experts—the NSA itself—and pored over the agency’s security tips and recommendations for its Department of Defense and intelligence-community customers. From there, we identified seven measures that both consumers and small businesses can easily implement to protect themselves from hackers and cybercriminals—and perhaps even from the NSA. (An article which includes coverage on security issues often missed in “expert” articles.)

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Playing Starcraft 2 Might Make You Smarter – This won’t come as a surprise if you’re familiar with the game’s genre, but playing Starcraft 2 might make you smarter. Starcraft 2 is a so-called “real-time strategy game,” a form of video game that involves resource management and military planning in parallel, while restricting the amount of information that each player has.

Easy ways to protect your Android phone – Your Android phone not only enables you to do nearly everything online, but also allows you to carry your life in your pocket. Although having all that information in a single location and always on hand may be especially convenient, it makes for an appealing target to thieves and hackers. But you’re not defenseless: You can take a number of steps and precautions to ensure that your stuff stays safe.

Facebook giving advertisers more data on user habits – The company is sharing information with telecom companies on how particular ads prompt people to buy new mobile devices or switch carriers. Other industries may follow.

The complete guide to iOS 7 (roundup) – After months of leaks, testing and teasing from Apple, iOS 7 is finally available for all to download. The new OS is a big change, packed full of new features to compliment the new look. We walk you through them.

Flawed Microsoft Office update tells users to buy suite – Microsoft yesterday acknowledged yet another problem with its Sept. 10 updates, confirming that one of those fixes broke Office 2010 Starter Edition by changing the file associations of already-created documents.

Make Sure You Know Who Will Inherit Your Twitter Account – People draft estate plans that carefully detail how their money and property should pass to their heirs after they become incapacitated or die. But what about our so-called digital assets, such as an iTunes account containing thousands of songs, or a Twitter account with hundreds of followers? Can people pass those on as well? And how do they ensure that heirs get access to password-protected bank and trading accounts that exist only online?

Mobile app download tally will soar above 102B this year – Gartner on Thursday said the number of overall mobile app downloads — both free and paid — will soar to 102 billion by the end of this year, up from 64 billion in 2012. By 2017, the number of app downloads should reach nearly 269 billion. Mobile app revenues will be $26 billion in 2013, up from $18 billion last year, Gartner said. That $26 billion in revenues comes from paid downloads and in-app purchases — even though only 9% of all downloads this year cost money. The rest, 91%, are free.

$199, 4.2” computer is Intel’s first Raspberry Pi competitor – With the Raspberry Pi, Arduino Due, and BeagleBone, the world is full of cheap, tiny computers that can be used by creative developers in everything from robots to space flight. One thing these platforms have in common is an ARM processor. Now they have some competition from Intel with its “MinnowBoard,” a $199 computer in the form of a 4.2″ x 4.2″ board with an Intel Atom processor.

Understanding tech language: The difference between malware and a virus – Once common, true computer viruses have become quite rare. Criminals have found better ways to spread malicious code. So if viruses are rare, why do people still talk about them? And why do we still run antivirus programs?


Hacking courses offer cybercrooks tips on how to hone skills – A growing number of experienced hackers have begun offering structured hacking courses for crooks seeking to make a career in cybercrime. The courses range from the basics of online fraud to advanced courses on online anonymity tools, botnets, cleaning up electronic evidence and dealing with law enforcement, according to RSA, the security division of EMC Corp.

iOS 7 Lock Screen Vulnerability Discovered Which Gives Access To Photos And Social Sharing, Apple Is Working On Fix – Vulnerabilities in Apple’s iOS lock screens have become a fixture of new iOS releases over the past few years, and iOS 7 is not exempt. A new method for bypassing the passcode on a lock screen has been discovered by idle hands and reported by Forbes’ Andy Greenberg. Update below.

How to Safeguard Your Device from iOS 7’s Lock Screen Bypass Bug – It’s a simple setting, but you have to give up something cool in the bargain.

Security Researchers Claim Apple Technically Capable Of Intercepting iMessages – Apple had previously claimed, via its security documents, that iMessages were encrypted end-to-end and that it is unable to read them. Researchers ‘GG’ and Cyril ‘Pod2G‘ Cattiaux of firm Quarkslab claim that they have discovered a method to perform a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, which can intercept these messages and allow them to be read, despite the encryption used by Apple.

Banks to block foreign websites in UK anti-porn Internet crusade – In support of the government’s planned default Internet porn filter, UK regulators will ask banks and creditors to cut off business with legal, foreign adult websites for not having “adequate” age checks. (The U.K. – East Germany in fancy clothes.)

We need to stop masking passwords – Masking passwords doesn’t defend against any likely threat, causes user frustration, and drives them to pick poor passwords.

Company News:

Pinterest Will Start Showing Ads As Traffic Keeps Growing But Shifts To Mobile – After four years, Pinterest is taking its first serious steps towards monetization. CEO Ben Silbermann today told users “we’re going to start experimenting with promoting certain pins from a select group of businesses” because “it’s so important that Pinterest is a service that will be here to stay.”

Ubuntu Touch release set for October: Android Nexus devices up first – In a month from the time of the release of this article – that’s October 17th – the folks at Ubuntu will be releasing the newest desktop OS version 13.10, and along with it an image of Ubuntu Touch. This mobile software will be available “ready to install” on devices we’ve seen running early versions since January of 2013. This means the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets (2012 editions, at least), and the LG Nexus 4 will be ready to roll by Halloween with full smartphone-optimized Ubuntu.

GoDaddy buys domain marketplace Afternic – Domain name provider GoDaddy acquired domain marketplace Afternic from NameMedia in a move to make it easier for small business owners to buy domain names. The acquisition is GoDaddy’s fourth in the last 14 months. GoDaddy also will acquire domain parking service SmartName and business name generator NameFind from NameMedia, it said Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Twitter gunning to go public before Thanksgiving, says report – The social network reportedly wants to raise more than $1 billion before the US holiday, which is just two months away.

Games and Entertainment:

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is how remakes should be done – Nintendo did such a good job that they set a new standard upon which other remakes and ports should be judged.

GTA V: That rape scene? No, that’s just cannibalism – Rockstar Games would like gamers to know that Grand Theft Auto V isn’t depicting a disgusting evil act. Well, not the one of which it’s accused.

Zombie Gunship Begins Patrolling the Skies Over Google Play – There are any number of games that allow you to shoot zombies, but very few of them involve a heavily-armed AC-130 ground attack aircraft. There’s really only the one, actually.

Artillery Teases Upcoming Game ‘Atlas,’ An HTML5-Based ‘Spiritual Successor To Starcraft’ – Artillery, the HTML5-centric gaming startup from a team of former Googlers and Facebook engineers, just teased its first title. Codenamed “Atlas,” the game is meant to be the “spiritual successor” to Starcraft — except that it’s entirely in the browser and requires no downloadable software. You can play it by opening up a link.

Ubisoft’s Child of Light might be the next great RPG – Amidst a flurry of first person shooters, racing games, and yet another Assasin’s Creed, Ubisoft has managed to schedule a few really interesting titles for the coming year. If you haven’t been drawn in by the hacker action of Watch Dogs, it looks like the upcoming Child of Light might be the RPG you’ve been looking for in the next generation of games.

Race the Sun – Grand Theft Auto V—too good for the PC, by Rockstar’s reckoning—thinks it has a monopoly on driving really fast while fleeing for your life. Well, their 800 million dollar (!) magnum opus might be the bee’s knees, but indie-darling Race the Sun is an utterly fantastic take on the endless runner that’ll only set you back $10. And it’s available on PC, Mac, and Linux; take that, smug console gamers.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Hungry? Let’s print lunch – Companies are beginning to use 3D printers to make cakes, candies and even chocolate. At the same time, food labs are working on printing entire meals that would be customized to each person’s metabolism.

Nielsen TV ratings to include monitoring on digital devices starting in 2014 – Nielsen, the premier American television ratings agency, will finally enter the modern age when it begins to count people watching TV on smartphones and tablets starting next fall. The new Digital Program Ratings will include 5,000 Americans and will pull demographic data from Facebook user data.

Expanding camera lens combines insect, human vision – This hybrid approach could give smartphone cameras dynamic focus, and add depth to surgical imaging.

10 glorious examples of conspicuous PC excess – When it comes to sheer technological audacity, nothing beats a desktop. From face-meltingly fast hardware to ridonkulous workstations to massive CPU coolers that could blend into an art installation, the following examples of glorious excess are possible only with a PC.

Do soldiers get too attached to battlefield robots? – A University of Washington researcher finds that soldiers develop emotional bonds with robots deployed in place of humans — and that may affect their battlefield performance.

Something to think about:

“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

–     Zig Ziglar

Today’s Free Downloads:

Complete Internet Repair – Complete Internet Repair does exactly what it says. It attempts to repair everything internet related, including networking problems.

Right Click Enhancer 4.1.2 – Right Click Enhancer gives you power to control the ultimate right click menu everyone use every day.Right Click Enhancer allows yo to edit your right click menu in the way you want. Now with help of this wonderful tool you can add some good stuff to your right click context menu.

SlimDrivers 2.2.32534 – SlimDrivers uses crowd-sourcing to spider and aggregate millions of devices. Using our cloud-based system, SlimDrivers not only detects when a driver needs updating, but also identifies the proper executable for your system and initiates the driver install automatically.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech group asks 21 countries to disclose surveillance requests – Countries that have pledged to support Internet freedom should allow technology vendors to report the number of electronic surveillance requests they receive, a tech advocacy group said Thursday. The governments include those of the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Ireland. As part of the coalition, they have committed to work together to advance Internet freedom.

Justice Dept. watchdog never probed judges’ NSA concerns – The Justice Department’s internal ethics watchdog says it never investigated repeated complaints by federal judges that the government had misled them about the NSA’s secret surveillance of Americans’ phone calls and Internet communications. Two judges on the court that oversees the spying programs separately rebuked federal officials in top-secret court orders for misrepresenting how the NSA was harvesting and analyzing communication records. In a sharply worded 2009 order, one of the judges, Reggie Walton, went so far as to suggest that he could hold national security officials in contempt or refer their conduct to outside investigators.

The Outrageous NSA Opinion – The secret surveillence court has weighed in on the NSA—but its decision, unfortunately, is more political than legal, writes Pentagon Papers lawyer James C. Goodale.

RSA Security advises users to avoid encryption possibly containing NSA backdoor – Word surfaced not too long ago that the NSA could have a backdoor for a specific type of encryption algorithm popularly used by developers. Today RSA Security, which offers this encryption to its customers by default in a toolkit, has sent out a notification advising those users to stop using it for the time being, as well as instructions for different options.

NSA Sends Letter to Its ‘Extended’ Family to Reassure Them That They Will ‘Weather’ This ‘Storm’ – The National Security Agency sent out a letter to all of its employees and affiliates, including contractors, that could be printed and shared with family, friends and colleagues. It was intended to reassure them that the NSA is not really the abusive and unchecked spying agency engaged in illegal activity that someone reading former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures might think it happens to be.

Snowden’s role provided ‘perfect cover’ for NSA data theft – NSA official says fugitive document leaker wasn’t “that clever,’ he just happened to be in right place at the right time.

Privacy perverted: No telco ever disobeyed NSA phone record orders – No telecommunications company ever refused to follow the secret US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s orders to turn over bulk phone records under the Patriot Act, despite a legal mechanism to do so, the court has revealed.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 19, 2013

Media Misleadingly Links Video Games to D.C. Shootings – The list of outlets hopping on the video-games-by-implication train is disheartening. There’s Fox News (“DC gunman obsessed with violent video games, reports say”), the Wall Street Journal (“Friend Says Alexis Was Videogame Fan, Heavy Drinker”), the Houston Chronicle (“Report: Navy Yard suspect “obsessed” with video games”), The Mirror (“Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis heard ‘voices in head’ after playing violent video games up to 18 hours a day”) and dozens more pulling the video games quotes into their write-ups.

Half of Facebook-quitters leave over privacy concerns – Research from the University of Vienna has found that 48.3% of those who left Facebook did so because of concerns over privacy.

Amazon vs. eBay vs. Walmart: The Best Same-Day Delivery Service – Here are three options to getting your online product on the same day you order it and how they compare when I tested buying a Blu-ray player.

The 7 best things about iOS 7 – Any OS update is going to have it’s advantages and disadvantages, but I gathered up seven of my favorite new changes in iOS 7.

Five free but powerful desktop calendars – What if you need something simple; something easy to use and readily available? If that’s the case, you’re still in luck – there are desktop calendar apps out there that are ready to serve. Although you won’t be integrating with an Exchange server, you can at least enjoy your own personal desktop calendar and, in some cases, even link your Google calendar.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Build the ultimate Windows 8 home-theater PC for under $500 – It’s true: The best way to control your home theater is still with a PC. Forget all the hype about Google Chromecast and other assorted set-top boxes, dongles, and other gadgets. None of them can organize and play movies, music, and TV shows as well as a home-theater computer. A good HTPC can even take the place of your cable box and DVR. In this article, we’ll show you how you can build a home-theater PC that will play anything, stream anything, and record live TV, for as little as $500.

Google adding download feature to YouTube mobile apps – Google says that an upcoming feature to its YouTube apps for mobile devices (for Android and iOS presumably) will be the ability to download videos to their device “for a short period.” The video won’t be accessible outside of the YouTube app, and will be deleted after an as yet unspecified period of time. However, it does mean more flexibility when choosing when to watch certain videos.

Make iTunes Radio play more of what you want, less of what you don’t – iTunes Radio, Apple’s new Internet radio service that launches alongside iOS 7, gives you some limited control over what you hear—and what you don’t. Here’s how to make sure Miley Cyrus stays out of your stations.

iTunes Radio could push thirteen ads an hour – iTunes Radio users without iTunes Match subscriptions can expect to hear around thirteen adverts an hour, with brands like McDonald’s, Nissan, and Pepsi inking deals with Apple to put their marketing front and center in the new streaming media service.

Microsoft pushes faster, touch-friendly IE11 preview onto Windows 7 – Microsoft pushed a preview of its Internet Explorer 11 to Windows 7 users on Wednesday, adding a bit more speed to its already touch-friendly features. Although Microsoft still claims that the IE family is the fastest browser on the planet, the company has highlighted its emphasis on touch.

Look inside code for free with dotPeek – When the source code is unavailable, give dotPeek a try. One developer explains the numerous things he likes about the tool and the one aspect he doesn’t like.

BlackBerry messaging service rolls out to Android and iPhone this weekend – Amid rumors of layoffs and a possible sale of the company, BlackBerry announced some good news Wednesday: its growing BBM instant messaging service will be available for Android and iPhone devices in the next several days.

German chancellor’s drone “attack” shows the threat of weaponized UAVs – At a campaign rally in Dresden on September 15, a small quadrocopter flew within feet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere, hovering briefly in front of them before crashing into the stage practically at Merkel’s feet. Merkel appeared to be amused by the “drone attack,” but de Maiziere and others on the stage seemed a bit more unsettled by the robo-kamikaze.

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook’s aim isn’t to be “cool” – Although Facebook has seen phenomenal growth over its years, it also saw a substantial decrease in users this year, prompting discussion once again about how Facebook will fair over time as the “cool” factor wears off. Such a question was posed to Mark Zuckerberg in Washington D.C. at Newseum, and Zuckerberg responded that the aim of Facebook isn’t to be cool.

The new lifecycle of your old iPhone – After handling the entire digital expression of your life for one, two, or more years, the most mercenary and practical end that a smartphone can meet is to be sold off secondhand. Wheeling and dealing with used personal electronics is not a new business, but in the last few years, it’s been writ very large with the glut of tiny hand-computers we’re all using lately.


Hackers exploit critical IE bug; Microsoft promises patch – Microsoft on Wednesday said that hackers are exploiting a critical, but unpatched, vulnerability in Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) and Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), and that its engineers are working on an update to plug the hole. As it often does, the company downplayed the threat.

Shylock Financial Malware Back and Targeting Two Dozen Major Banks – Shylock banking malware infections are up and targeting 24 major banks in particular. The malware has also added domain generation algorithm capabilities and the IPs being generated are self-signed, researchers said.

Apple Touch ID: Do security advantages outweigh risks? – Tom Olzak examines the security pros and cons associated with Apple’s fingerprint authentication technology on the new iPhone 5s.

Criminals the primary users of Whois privacy services: ICANN – ICANN has found more ammunition for its fight to overhaul the existing Whois system, finding that more criminals are using Whois privacy/proxy services than regular users.

Company News:

Google launches Calico, an anti-aging company led by an Apple executive – Today Google announced it’s launching “Calico,” a company focused on “health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases.” The initiative will be a long term “moonshot” project involving healthcare and biotechnology (Google basically wants to stop you from dying).

BlackBerry To Cut Up To 40% Of Staff By Year’s End – Hey BlackBerry fans, here’s a bit of good news: BBM will officially land on Android devices starting on September 21, with the iOS version going live the next day. Hey BlackBerry employees, here’s a bit of bad news: there’s a decent chance that you or some of your co-workers are going to lose their jobs.

Hulu says ‘ello to a ton of new BBC shows – Anglophiles of the streaming world, unite! On Wednesday, Hulu announced a huge content acquisition deal with BBC Worldwide North America to bring tons of British shows to your TVs, mobile devices, and desktops. There’s so much content, in fact, that Hulu is rolling it out in four stages for its $8-a-month Hulu Plus subscribers.

Games and Entertainment:

Grand Theft Auto 5 takes more than $800m in day one sales – Grand Theft Auto V sales topped $800m in the game’s first day of availability, publisher Take-Two Interactive has confirmed, setting a record for the series in the process. GTA5, released on September 17, was Take-Two’s fastest selling title of all time, in fact, helped by no shortage of pre-release hype and some retailers opening at midnight for gamers to get their hands on it as early as possible.

The Best iPad Games – New iPads probably aren’t coming out ’til October. In the meanwhile, here are 75 awesome time-killers for your gracefully aging tablet.

PlayStation App brings social connectivity, information pages, gameplay access and more – Wrapping up the Tokyo Game Show keynote this evening, Sony introduced the PlayStation App, a mobile app for Android and iOS that brings device connectivity into the mix. With the app, users can take part in games on the go, as well as use a smartphone or such as a second screen, check out what friends are up to, and more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Short film ‘Noah’ will make you think twice about Facebook – This remarkable Canadian short probes how online experiences can undermine a relationship. Part of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, the 17-minute portrayal of teenager Noah Lennox’s unraveling love life feels eerily familiar, as well as a sign of things to come. The video has garnered nearly 1 million views since it was posted to YouTube on September 9.

Flying eagle point of view  (video 1:26) – Satisfy those daydreams of flying like an Eagle in this spectacular visual treat. Truly amazing. (recommended by Michael F.)

Facebook “Like” button just as protected as written speech, court rules – In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision, declaring that a Facebook “Like” is protected under the First Amendment, like other forms of speech. The Virginia case involves a former deputy sheriff in Hampton, Virginia, who claimed that he had been fired for “liking” his boss’ rival in a political campaign for county sheriff. In the original lawsuit, a federal district judge tossed the case, saying that a Facebook “Like” was “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.”

Three men face year in jail after posing as cops to cut in line for GTA V – The trio proceeded to bypass the long line of gamers that had formed outside the mall’s GameStop outlet and spoke with the store’s manager. Flashing badges and proclaiming they were NYPD, the manager agreed to let them purchase copies of the game and saw them on their way. Until that point the ruse had worked, but they didn’t count on a real copy being in the area.

Ex-pro athlete uses tweets to find house-trashing teens – Brian Holloway learned on Twitter that his house was being used by hundreds of teens for an unauthorized party and used their tweets to identify those he thinks are responsible for $20,000 in damage.

Something to think about:

You don’t remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened.”

–      John Green

Today’s Free Downloads:

Wise Care 365 2.81.221 – Wise Care 365 is a bundle of important registry, disk, and other system utilities for your PC. Easy to use and effective, Wise Care 365 is the good solution to improve your PC’s performance. Get Wise Care 365 and your computer will never run slow again!

Panda Cloud Cleaner 1.0.69 – Panda Cloud Cleaner is an advanced disinfector based on Collective Intelligence (scanning in-the-cloud) that detects malware that traditional security solutions cannot detect. The free disinfector.

Sticky Password Free – Stay safe online and save time by letting Sticky Password fill in website forms and passwords automatically. Each license also includes the portable version and installs easily on your USB device or flash memory stick, so you’ll always have your passwords wherever you need them. Sticky Password incorporates the industry’s most powerful encryption algorithms and provides effective protection against phishing schemes, concealed key-loggers and identity theft.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Former NSA chief: ‘Morally arrogant’ Snowden will probably become an alcoholic – Gen. Michael Hayden, a former NSA and CIA chief, shared a lot of opinions during a discussion at a Washington church Sunday, beyond his thoughts on terrorists’ love for Gmail and the U.S. government’s approach to the Internet. Discussing the “tension between security and liberty” at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House, Hayden criticized the reporting of NSA surveillance programs, argued that society must make a choice between security and liberty, and took personal shots at NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Rep. Goodlatte Demands “Further Protections” From NSA Snooping – Today Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, stated that he is “convinced that further protections” of the civil liberties of U.S. citizens are necessary following review of the nation’s surveillance efforts. Rep. Goodlatte’s statement follows his attendance of a classified briefing discussing current governmental use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to collect information.

Zuckerberg: Thanks NSA, now people trust Facebook even less – It’s not just Facebook. The trust metrics for all major Internet companies have gone down since the NSA scandal broke, the social network’s CEO said.

US secret court publishes rationale for why spying on everybody is OK – The newly unveiled rationale has its roots in the old “you disclose your phone number to the phone company when you make a call” shtick. Swap “phone number” for “massive piles of metadata” and you get the reason everything done under the telecom metadata sharing program under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is legally legitimate.

NSA aims to plug holes that sprang Snowden leaks – In addition to allowing sensitive materials to be accessed only by people who have a documented need to review them, the tags will allow NSA leaders to better track what individuals do with the data, National Public Radio reported Wednesday. “Could someone today do what [Snowden] did? No,” NSA CTO Lonny Anderson told the news service.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 18, 2013

Five things missing from the iPhone 5s you can get in Android smartphones – The new Apple iPhone 5s will sell millions and require long lines this Friday, but as we read through the reviews we see Apple held back quite a bit with the latest high end offering.

How to securely erase an iPhone – With a release of the new iPhone 5s and 5c only days away, we can expect a lot of older handsets to be flooding the secondhand market or making their way into the hands of family members who are lower down the tech totem pole. But before you hand over your old iPhone to someone else, you want to make sure that all your data has been securely erased. You want to hand over the hardware, not your entire digital life!

10 underdog open source apps you need to try – You might never have heard of some of these, or perhaps you have, but you’ve dismissed them because you already have a program that does the same thing “just fine.” However, I think these are worth a second look for their numerous features and solid functionality. Let’s take a look and see if I can introduce you to some new software titles.

Firefox 24 fixes many serious vulnerabilities – Mozilla has released version 24 of Firefox and Thunderbird. Firefox 24, which fixes 10 critical and 10 lesser vulnerabilities, becomes the new Extended Support Release.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Katy Perry, Jon Hamm, and Britney Spears top list of most dangerous web celebs – These deadly celebs may not threaten you personally, but if you click the wrong link while searching for these stars, you’re at risk for drive-by downloads, phishing attempts, and scareware.

Virgin Mobile uses webcam to change YouTube ads every time you blink – Virgin Mobile has introduced what it called “BlinkWashing,” an advertisement system of sorts that — with permission — uses your webcam to track your eyes while watching a YouTube video, causing the advertisement to change every time you blink. The company is showing off the feature on its YouTube page, where anyone with a webcam can try it out.

Major advertising group quits Do Not Track standards body – The Digital Advertising Alliance has publicly and pointedly resigned from the standards body that had been lurching uncertainly toward a voluntary standard for online privacy. This might be a final blow to a standards effort that was already staggering.

White House asks for legal phone unlocking – Ban on unlocking cell phones went into effect at the beginning of the year when the Library of Congress opted not to renew a Digital Millennium Copyright Act exemption.

10 free SharePoint tools to make IT admins smile – The SharePoint software vendor ecosystem has produced many free tools that help you administer and configure a SharePoint farm on a day-to-day basis. The vendors would, of course, love to have you upgrade to their for-pay software products, but until you do there is much utility in these free tools.

iPhone fingerprint scanner sparks privacy worries – John Caspar, Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, told German news magazine Der Spiegel that the use of biometric technology for the sake of consumer convenience could become a hackers’ treasure trove, granting them access to permanent data that cannot be deleted or changed.

Quitting Facebook – what’s behind the new trend to leave social networks? – If you are ready to commit “virtual identity suicide,” delete your Facebook account, and say good-bye to social networking sites, you are not alone.

Anger Spreads Quicker Than Joy on Social Networks – Sites like Facebook and Twitter help us stay connected to others, but all this interaction is leading to a lot of anger, according to a new study from researchers at China’s Beihang University.

Frozen in time: Tips and tricks for photographing waterfalls – You’ve no doubt seen two kinds of waterfall photos. The first kind is easy to take: Just point your camera at the water and press the shutter release. The camera’s fast shutter speed will tend to freeze the water in place, and you’ll get an unremarkable photo of the scene. There’s nothing wrong with a waterfall photo like that, but you can do better. The other kind of waterfall photo? A slow shutter speed blurs the torrent into a majestic fog of water. That’s what we’ll talk about here.

Google Nexus 7 (2013) review: Improved spec, great screen, top value – The 2013 Nexus 7 is a sleeker, lighter and better-specified device than last year’s model. There’s still no Micro-SD card support, but good all-round performance and battery life, plus a competitive price, add up to superb value for money.

Apple resurrects old app versions to run on old iOS hardware – Apple has added new compatibility features that will allow users running a less-than-current version of iOS to download old versions of apps on the App Store, according to a post on Reddit late Monday (the dialog pop-up was recreated by Engadget). While the new feature serves customers in that the App Store will no longer deny them just because they haven’t updated in a while, it could put an unnecessary onus on developers, who were apparently not even notified of the change.


Microsoft rushes urgent fix for Internet Explorer – It’s not Patch Tuesday, but Microsoft has released a crucial update for Internet Explorer that you should apply immediately. Microsoft included a cumulative update for Internet Explorer in the 13 security bulletins that made up Patch Tuesday last week, and that update was considered Critical as well. Since then, though, a new flaw has been targeted by attacks in the wild, so Microsoft has responded with an out-of-band update.

Maryland state security sloppiness exposes personal data – Careless practices by the State of Maryland have exposed the data on thousands of background check forms to even the most casual hacker.

‘HoneyDocs’ lays irresistible bait for hackers – HoneyDocs is designed to let people know if someone has been snooping around their files. It works by using a Web “bug” — an invisible, 1 x 1 pixel that, if viewed, unnoticeably sends a piece of data back to a server. HoneyDocs is built around the concepts known as “hacking back” or “active defense,” Carey said. “You’re socially engineering the attacker that’s attacking you.”

China-based hacking group behind hundreds of attacks on U.S. Companies – Hidden Lynx hacking-for-hire group more sophisticated than others, including using malware targeting zero-day flaws, Symantec says.

Address Google Glass vulnerabilities with these best practices – Google Glass provides interesting potential, but it can also be susceptible to vulnerabilities.

Munich to hand out Ubuntu Linux CDs to ward off upcoming Windows Xpocalypse – The end is nigh, and the date of doom has been foretold. The Windows XPocalypse is set to unleash hell on April 8, 2014, and in a bid to preserve the security of its citizens, the German city of Munich is turning to an unlikely savior: Ubuntu Linux.

Company News:

Windows 8.1 brings back full retail versions as Windows SKUs change again – Microsoft has announced the pricing and packaging for Windows 8.1. Retail packages of Windows 8.1 will have a retail price of $119.99, and Windows 8.1 Pro will be $199.99. The Pro Pack, to convert 8.1 to 8.1 Pro, will be $99.99. Media Center will also remain available to Pro users for $9.99. As disclosed in May, upgrading from 8.0 to 8.1 will be no-cost. These packages will be full, supported, retail copies, suitable for installation on systems without an operating system at all, as well as for use within virtual machines.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud Surpasses 1M Subscribers, But Q3 2013 Revenue Falls To $995.1M – Adobe today reported quarterly earnings for its third financial quarter of the year. While the company reported another decline in revenue and earnings per share to $995.1 million and $0.32 respectively – something most analysts expected – the company also announced another quarter of impressive growth for its Creative Cloud subscription service.

T-Mobile rebuked over “flawed” marketing against AT&T – A lie is a lie, even in advertising, a lesson that T-Mobile is seemingly being taught by the National Advertising Division (NAD). This curious reprimand is based on certain claims made by the carrier in its marketing spiels that puts it in a very favorable but, according to the NAD, disputable position over AT&T.

Kaazing Two Times Faster and Five Times More Efficient for Real-Time Web and Mobile – Kaazing, the leading provider of live web and mobile communication and authors of HTML5 WebSocket, today announced the launch of the new Kaazing WebSocket Gateway 4.0. Through the company’s revolutionary standards-based architecture, the new platform significantly improves bandwidth utilization by up to five times, decreases latency by up to 50%, and reduces CPU utilization by up to 25% – bolstering performance and scalability.

YouMagine Brings Some Heat To The Free 3D Model Space – Is the 3D modeling space big enough for multiple competitors? Martijn Elserman, Siert Wijnia and Erik de Bruijn sure think so. They’re the founders of a new 3D object sharing site called YouMagine and were the creators of the Ultimaker, a $1,500 3D printer that comes in kit form and is a favorite with the DIY set.

Google reportedly replacing third-party cookies with AdID to alleviate privacy concerns – Google is reportedly working on an alternative to third-party cookies called AdID, an anonymous identifier that would help mitigate privacy concerns that exist with current third-party tracking cookies. Such has not been made publicly known, but will reportedly be part of talks slated to happen with industry members and related parties “in the coming weeks.”

Games and Entertainment:

Diablo 3 to permanently remove its auction houses in March 2014 – Blizzard has posted a bombshell of an update to the Battle.Net blog. As of 18 March 2014, it is removing both the gold and the real money Auction Houses from Diablo 3. The change will eliminate what has come to be an unavoidable part of the game’s loot collection system, especially as characters pass level 60 and begin to participate in the end-game content.

Megaman descendant Mighty No 9 headed to PS3, Xbox, Wii U – In the annals of Kickstarter history, Mighty No. 9, the descendant of much-beloved Megaman, has achieved widespread success, hitting and quickly surpassing its first goal, as well as a few after it. Now it has hit another milestone, and the announcement has been made that the game will be coming to the Playstation 3, the Xbox 360, and the Wii U, as well as availability through Steam.

Bugbear’s Next Car Game includes amazing vehicular destruction – The maker of Flatout, Ridge Racer Unlimited, and Sega Rally Revo is no stranger to mad Mustangs and violent Vipers, so to drive home just how serious the team is about car destructibility, they’ve released a behind the scenes video all about their work in that area. It’s basically two and a half minutes of the same car crashing over and over — and damned if it isn’t entertaining.

Hulu inks deal with BBC for 144 shows, including ‘Doctor Who – Deal is the video-streaming service’s largest content acquisition since taking itself off the auction block in July, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why aren’t we building a space elevator? – It has the potential to revolutionize our relationship with space, and we have plans for building one. So the question becomes: What’s the hold-up?

The human recipe includes a kilo of calcium, a pinch of salt – Though we do seem terribly complicated, it turns out that a human being can be built, completely intact and complete, with just 22 ingredients. From A to zinc, evolution has shaped just these two dozen or so elements to make up everything from Mozart to Manson.

Is There a Word for That? – Historically, the British have looked upon American word inventions with all the enthusiasm of an art museum curator examining Elvis-on-velvet paintings. In a famous exchange with American lexicographer Noah Webster, an English naval officer named Basil Hall expressed dismay about the many new words he heard while visiting America in the late 1820s. Webster defended the verbal creativity of his countrymen. If a new word proved useful, he asked, why not add it to the vocabulary? “Because there are words enough already,” responded Hall. (recommended by Michael F.)

Disney Researchers Create A Way To Make Geared Figures That Look Amazingly Life-Like (video 5:10) – For centuries the creation of geared automata has been sort of a dark art. To design a mechanical device to move like a human or animal was a trick in itself and to build the gears and rods necessary to propel the thing was even trickier. A team of Disney researchers, however, have created a system that will let puppeteers and fans of clockwork build geared robots using 3D printings and some metal rods. Most important, they look far cooler than this dude.

Interview: Dr. Jillian Roberts on children, apps, and education – What exactly is the intersection of education and entertainment on a smartphone or tablet, and how do you use that to reach children with your content? I sat down recently with Dr. Jillian Roberts to discuss her sexual education app for children, and the process that lead her to creating this experience.

Something to think about:

I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

–      Robert McCloskey – State Department spokesman

Today’s Free Downloads:

Wise Video Downloader 1.53.73 – Easily search and download high-quality, high-definition videos so you can save them to your local computer or server.

Youtube Downloader HD – Youtube Downloader HD is a free tool to download videos from YouTube and save it to your local computer. The videos can be converted to avi video format or to mp4 (compatible with iPod, iPhone).

Clean Master for Android – Clean out your junk files, clear out your private information, uninstall and backup, and kill rogue apps.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Spying Justification Declassified – The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), America’s super-secret spy court, has finally revealed the legal justification for the National Security Agency’s phone record dragnet program. According to the decision, judges had declared that every single call record was relevant to the fight against terrorism, and thus legal for spy agencies to collect en masse. Perhaps most importantly, telecommunications companies never challenged the NSA’s authority to collect the data.

BitTorrent and Madonna join forces for free speech – BitTorrent is making its biggest move yet in its quest to become a legitimate source of legal content: partnering with Madonna. The queen of pop is using BitTorrent to distribute her new film, secretprojectrevolution, for free beginning Sept. 24. Madonna co-directed the 17-minute movie with photographer Steven Klein in an effort to raise awareness about human rights—specifically, free speech.

LinkedIn files motion for greater transparency on spy requests – The social network joins Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others in effort to reassure customers by winning right to publish specific numbers on government requests for user data.

Verizon exec slams Google, Microsoft, Yahoo for NSA lawsuit grandstanding – Verizon says that the issues raised by the Snowden leaks are questions for society, not press releases.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 17, 2013

How to protect your PC against devious security traps – Securing your PC against the malicious wilds of the Web isn’t as simple as just keeping your antivirus software of choice up-to-date. In fact, the pervasiveness of security software has forced the bad guys to turn to increasingly clever tricks in their quest to “pwn” your PC. But fear not! Those sneaky tricks are most effective if victims are unaware of the danger. And today, dear reader, I’m going to show you how to avoid the most devious PC security traps, because in this case knowing is more than half the battle.

Name-brand vs. Asian monitors: Why pay more for the same technology? – James Sanders compares several monitors from name-brand suppliers and their Asian counterparts. The displays all use the same LG-sourced panels, so why pay more for the same technology?

Google now lets you change your password remotely on an Android device – Google has begun rolling out an update to its Google Play Services that includes the ability to remotely change your phone unlock password—a major addition since the search giant released the Android Device Manager last month. Now you’ll be able to lock your Android phone remotely, rather than having to completely wipe it before you can get to it.

How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems – Here are some common causes of pairing problems as well as advice on what you can do about them.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Getting started with Chrome Apps – Not sure if the new Chrome Apps for desktop are for you? Here’s a guide to tell you how they differ from regular extensions, and how to try them out right now.

Bring back Gmail’s old compose window with Chrome extension – If you are among the masses who have experienced a sense of loss after Gmail introduced its new compose window, you can return to the old way of composing e-mails if you use Chrome. With the Old Compose extension, you can do away with the small pop-out window and bring back Gmail’s old compose window.

The Uber App Now Lets You Tell Friends When You’ll Get There With A Live ETA Map – The Uber app for iOS and, presumably, Android is today getting a couple of new features centered around estimated times of arrival. The app now lets you share your ETA with contacts from the app, letting them know exactly when you’ll arrive. The app also lets you text a live map of your trip to your contacts, letting them check in on you to see where you are in relation to your destination.

Cell Phone Internet Use Sees Big Jump – About 63 percent of Americans with cell phones use those devices to access the Internet, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project

Why you may want a desktop instead of a laptop – Laptops long ago surpassed desktops in sales, and tablets and smartphones are taking major market share from laptops. The tendency is clearly towards smaller, lighter, and more portable computing. But there are some good reasons to stick with a big box that sits on or below your desk.

Sony jams Google TV into a Chromecast-sized stick – Sony shrinks the Google TV experience into a Chromecast-like dongle and includes a remote for good measure.


Bruce Schneier: Surreptitiously Tampering with Computer Chips – This is really interesting research: “Stealthy Dopant-Level Hardware Trojans.” Basically, you can tamper with a logic gate to be either stuck-on or stuck-off by changing the doping of one transistor. This sort of sabotage is undetectable by functional testing or optical inspection. And it can be done at mask generation — very late in the design process — since it does not require adding circuits, changing the circuit layout, or anything else. The paper talks about several uses for this type of sabotage, but the most interesting — and devastating — is to modify a chip’s random number generator. All this makes it really hard to detect. Yes, this is a conspiracy theory. But I’m not willing to discount such things anymore. That’s the worst thing about the NSA’s actions. We have no idea whom we can trust.

California school district hires online monitoring firm to watch 13,000 students – Startup analyzes public social media posts: “Therefore, no privacy is violated.” Geo Listening looks for social media posts that deal with depression, despair, online bullying, hate speech, or other words and phrases that may indicate a possible violation of school codes of conduct—whether it’s by a student or someone in and around a school’s location.

Box aims for NSA-resistant cloud security with customers holding the keys – While Box may be resistant to most criminal hackers, like most cloud storage companies, it must provide the government with customer data when it is forced to. For the vast majority of Box customers, that isn’t likely to change. However, the company is developing a system for the most security-conscious customers in which even Box management would not be able to decrypt user data—making it resistant to requests from the National Security Agency.

Revoyem Ransomware Sinks to New Low – A strain of the Revoyem ransomware redirects victims to child pornography before locking the computer and displaying a law enforcement warning demanding a fine for viewing the illegal content.

What’s better than creating your own DDoS? Renting one – Interested in denying someone access to the Internet? Ten dollars provides a very nice DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) platform, featuring one 60-second long attack that can be used as often as needed for an entire month. For those wanting more, 169 dollars provides the ultimate DDoS, three two-hour long attacks, also rentable by the month.

iPhone 5S haters: here’s how you steal a fingerprint – So, the iPhone 5S has a fingerprint scanner built into the Home button. Pretty secure, am I right? Nooo! You can steal someone’s fingerprint. For all Apple haters everywhere.

Company News:

Bump acquired by Google: “magic” media transfers included – This week the folks at Bump have announced that they’ll be moving to Google, the latter coming having acquired the former in a deal that’ll bring new technology to Android and Chrome (more than likely). The app Bump currently works with Android and iOS devices to provide data transfer from one device o another with a rather unique means of attachment: smashing one’s device against a desktop computer’s spacebar. Being acquired by Google means that this – and similar – technology will be integrated into Google’s services as a standard.

Valve CEO Gabe Newell Says Linux Is The Future Of Gaming, Hints At SteamBox Announcement – In his keynote today at Linuxcon, Valve CEO and Founder Gabe Newell said Linux is the future of gaming and hinted about the announcement next week of a gaming box built on the open-source operating environment.

Google and Samsung soar into list of top 10 Linux contributors – Google and Samsung have become increasingly frequent contributors to Linux, and each is now among the top 10 companies sponsoring the open source kernel that powers operating systems from mobile devices to desktops and servers.

Take note: Box looks beyond cloud storage with note-taking app – Box Notes, to be unveiled on Monday at the company’s BoxWorks conference in San Francisco, will provide a word processor-like interface where colleagues can add content to the document and co-edit it in real time. The application, which will be a standard component of the Box product, is in a limited test release. Interested testers need to request access by signing up at The company is looking at next year for releasing it in final form.

Microsoft gives Bing a makeover – Along with a new logo and cosmetic homepage changes, the software giant’s search engine gets new features and modifications to others.

Microsoft begins offering free Azure training for researchers – In a bid to help researchers use its Azure platform, Microsoft has begun offering free training.

Games and Entertainment:

Angry Birds swoops in with new levels and powers – Rovio’s popular game expands its wings in the latest update with 15 new levels and manual targeting.

Grand Theft Auto V: A crime- and sun-filled tourist destination – Sequel provides subtle gameplay tweaks, plenty of memorable moments. If you asked me 10 years ago what Grand Theft Auto games would look like in 2013… this image would be pretty damn close to what I’d have expected.

Xbox Game Ahead Program launched, buy Call of Duty: Ghosts with next-gen upgrade – With the release of Microsoft’s next generation console just a few months away, gamers are probably on the fence about buying new games that would also be available on the upcoming Xbox One as well. Players can now relax a bit at least for one popular title, as Call of Duty announces its Xbox Game Ahead offering to specifically address this concern.

iStoryTime Debuts A “Netflix For Ebooks” For Kids – Apps are available in iTunes, Amazon’s Appstore, Google Play, and Microsoft Surface’s app store, while e-books can be found on platforms like Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iBooks, and Amazon’s Kindle. Basically, it’s a good many of the kid-focused studio brands (which aren’t Disney), in every major mobile marketplace.

Deus ex mouse: Godus is a click-happy revival of classic god games – God games are few and far between, so it’s only fitting that Populous creator Peter Molyneux take another swing at the genre he arguably defined. It helps to think of Godus as a sort of Populous 2.0: you’re tasked with helping a pair of villagers transform into a thriving, globe-spanning civilization, conquering territory and foes in your name.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Fighter jet technology for your car dashboard – Garmin’s latest device is a head-up display that projects directions right onto your windshield. It certainly has a cool factor, but how about the safety factor?

Who’s actually writing your favorite celebrity’s tweets? – If you’ve ever wondered how Sarah Palin managed to translate her complicated relationship with the English language into coherent long-form Facebook posts, or how the mayor of America’s largest city finds time to post several times a day, the answer probably points to a professional social media ghostwriter. In fact, public figures ranging from Britney Spears to Kanye West to Barack Obama have admitted to using paid professional help to maintain their social media profiles.

True Facts About The Frog (video 4:04) – A knowledge packed tongue-in-cheek scientific look at the Frog. A sort of “Everything You Wanted to Know About Frogs But Were Afraid to Ask” look at a little guy who plays a  surprising role in literature, symbolism and religion. (recommended by Michael F.)

Report — Love for personal computers on the decline – American Customer Satisfaction Index report shows customers are happier with tablets than with desktops and laptops, but satisfaction level for PCs in general is down from one year ago.

This is what the moon looks like as it rotates – This fascinating time-lapse video from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter puts a real spin on the moon.

Terrorists prefer Gmail, former CIA director says – When terrorists need a Web mail service to coordinate their plans, most turn to Gmail, Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA, tells a church audience.

Something to think about:

“Who cares how we avoided a war and got a dictator to give up his chemical weapons if we avoided a war and got a dictator to give up his chemical weapons.”

–     John Stewart

Today’s Free Downloads:

GameSave Manager 3.1.373.0 – No longer do you need to manually track through all of the those different directories to backup/restore/transfer your gamesaves, making it great for those who like to share gamesave progress with friends/family, format frequently, paranoid about data loss, etc. With GameSave Manager, you can easily backup, restore and transfer your gamesave(s).

MKVToolnix 6.4.0 – MKVToolnix allows you to create, alter and inspect video files with the MKV format. They do for Matroska what the OGMtools do for the OGM format and then some. You can also get information about, extract tracks/data from, and create MKV files from other media files.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA impersonated Google in MitM attacks – After all the recent revelations about the NSA and their surveillance and encryption-foiling activities, would it surprise you to know that the agency or its British counterpart GCHQ also impersonated Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in Man-in-the-Middle attacks aimed at intercepting user communications?

NSA cryptanalyst: We, too, are Americans – An NSA mathematician shares his from-the-trenches view of the agency’s surveillance activities – As someone deep in the trenches of NSA, where I work on a daily basis with data acquired from these programs, I, too, feel compelled to raise my voice. Do I, as an American, have any concerns about whether the NSA is illegally or surreptitiously targeting or tracking the communications of other Americans? The answer is emphatically, “No.” (A puppet airs (his?) point of view.)

Largest Belgian telecom breached by the NSA? – According to Dutch news-site NRC and their “well-informed” sources, the compromise dates back to 2011, and the complexity of the malware suggests that the British and American intelligence are likely the culprits. At a press conference, both Belgacom CEO Didier Bellens and Jean-Pascal Labille, the Belgian Minister of Public Enterprises and Development Cooperation, have declined to comment on which foreign country might be behind the attack and said they didn’t know how long the telecom’s systems have been compromised.

“Stop spy on us!” 14 NASA sites hacked – Hacker BMPoC posted a deface page and message on all 14 hacked NASA websites that link their attack to possible US military intervention in Syria, as well as to US spying on Brazil.

Secure Cellphone Maker GSMK Talks Cryptography In A Post-Snowden World – In a world where your every move is tracked, what would you pay for a secure cellphone? Dr. Björn Rupp is willing to bet it’s about $3,500. I spoke with Rupp at his offices in Berlin where we sat behind his spy-proof, bulletproof glass windows and talked about the future of secure communications and how the Snowden affair affected sales of his pricey — if not important — cellphones.

NSA Bought Exploit Service From VUPEN, Contract Shows – The U.S. government–particularly the National Security Agency–are often regarded as having advanced offensive cybersecurity capabilities. But that doesn’t mean that they’re above bringing in a little outside help when it’s needed. A newly public contract shows that the NSA last year bought a subscription to the zero-day service sold by French security firm VUPEN.


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