Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 6, 2013

New offline Chrome Apps offer a near-native desktop experience in your browser – This new generation of Chrome Apps is as Web-centric as ever, but with some key improvements: They work offline. They store data locally. They interact more fully with your PC’s hardware. They handle photos and videos with far greater aplomb. In short, they act a lot more like the full-fledged software we’re used to enjoying on the Windows and Mac platforms.

10 Tips to Speed Up Your PC – Got the slow PC blues? There are quite a few things you can do to speed up your Windows machine.

Carry the free winPenPack toolset on your USB drive – Collecting all of these tools on a single USB drive can be a long and arduous project. Thankfully, there are outstanding toolsets available like winPenPack. The open source and free winPenPack comes with a complete set of useful tools for anyone who wants to carry IT applications with them.

Secure your small-business network without spending a dime – What if we told you that there were security controls in the tools you already own that could vastly improve your protection if you just used them? And that you could fill any gaps in protection with free security programs that are every bit as effective as their commercial counterparts? Below are several ways to fend off cyberthreats. The only investment is your time.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft will release a Surface Power Cover that doubles battery life – Microsoft’s Surface Pro is a solid Windows 8 PC, but battery life is its Achilles heel. In a few months, however, Microsoft is going to offer a new accessory that will change things. Microsoft will be adding a secondary battery to the Type Cover and calling the new creation… what else? The Power Cover.

How to: Keep other people off of my PC – Generosity is a virtue, but so is taking precautionary measures. If a visiting friend needs larger-than-mobile Internet access while at your home, you don’t want to deny it. But neither do you want new browser settings, a malware infection, or a formatted hard drive.

30-Second Tech Trick: How to Search Twitter All the Way Back to 2006 – Harken back to the days of iPhones that couldn’t make phone calls, Circuit City, a normal Miley Cyrus and more.

PayPal Android and iOS apps score major update with shop finder and redesign – Though multiple notable features have been added, perhaps the most important among them for users is the inclusion of “Shop,” a tabbed section that details restaurants and stores that accept payments from the online service.

Nitrous.IO’s Packaged Chrome App Turns Chromebooks Into Full-Blown Developer Machines – With the right tools, Google’s Chromebooks make for cheap Linux development machines, but it takes a bit of work to get there. Nitrous.IO, which offers a fully cloud-based development environment for writing Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Go, and Python/Django apps, launched its packaged app for Chrome today.

Sudden spike of Tor users likely caused by one “massive” botnet – Researchers have found a new theory to explain the sudden spike in computers using the Tor anonymity network: a massive botnet that was recently updated to use Tor to communicate with its mothership. Anonymity-preserving service isn’t just for dissidents—criminals love it, too.

3Doodler hands-on: 3D printing for the mass market – Kickstarter success 3Doodler proved there was a market for 3D printing without the geek requirement, but can crafting in the third-dimension really be as easy as wielding a hot nib? True, you won’t be creating any replacement machine parts, but with a $99.99 price tag that’s probably no surprise. We caught up with the $2.3m funding success at ShowStoppers at IFA 2013 to try our hand.

Ricoh Theta camera takes beautifully confusing 360-degree photos – The Theta can shoot everything around you with one click of its shutter button. Everything. How? By capturing spherical images, of course. The results are both jaw-dropping and disorienting.


Should you let your lover spy on your iPhone messages? – There’s little worse than leaving your iPhone unattended and wondering if your significant other is sniffing around it. There is, apparently, a way to find out. But where do you draw the line between love and privacy?

Patch Tuesday preview: Microsoft to patch dangerous Outlook hack-by-preview bug – Microsoft today said it will ship 14 security updates next week to patch critical vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Windows, Office and SharePoint, its enterprise collaboration platform.

New advanced banking Trojan in the wild – ESET malware researchers have uncovered a new and effective banking Trojan which targets online banking users in Europe and Asia. Hundreds of infections have been detected in Turkey, dozens in the Czech Republic, United Kingdom and Portugal. This very potent and sophisticated banking malware dubbed Hesperbot is spreading via phishing-like emails and also attempts to infect mobile devices running Android, Symbian and Blackberry.

Privacy groups want FTC to oppose Facebook’s policy changes – Six privacy groups have asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to strike down proposed changes to Facebook’s policies, as they violate a 2011 settlement with the agency over user privacy.

Company News:

Google fights to kill email-scanning lawsuit brought by Gmail users – Google lawyers are in court today arguing to dismiss a lawsuit that would stop the company from scanning Gmail users’ email messages for advertising purposes. The lawsuit contends that Google’s automated scanning of emails in the company’s free, cloud-based Gmail service violates the Federal Wiretap Act and the California Invasion of Privacy Act.

Apple testing six-inch iPhone: report – The Wall Street Journal’s Ian Sherr, Eva Dou and Lorraine Luk report today that Apple “has begun evaluating a plan to offer iPhones with screens ranging from 4.8 inches to as high as six inches,” according to unnamed sources. That’s quite different from the 4-inch display on the current iPhone 5 and the 3.5-inch display on iPhone 4 and 4S models still popular on the street. Indeed, six inches would make for one of the largest smartphones on the market.

Microsoft Wins $14M in Motorola Patent Fight – The long-running Motorola-versus-Microsoft patent struggle came to an end this week, when a U.S. District Court jury in Seattle awarded Microsoft $14 million in damages.

Lenovo doubles down on convertible PC bet; Yoga-tizes lineup – Lenovo is making a big bet on convertible PCs and betting that consumers and businesses want one device that can do a bit of everything. Bottom line: Lenovo is taking its approach with its Yoga PC and infusing that DNA throughout its lineup.

Linux Professional Institute puts Linux in the classrooms – Businesses really, really want trained Linux professionals, and the Linux Professional Institute wants to help by providing a new training program for middle-school students on up.

Games and Entertainment:

Qualcomm shows off Vuforia Smart Terrain, makes your living room a game – We’ve seen Vuforia in the past, making magazines and books come to life on our mobile devices, but at Uplinq they revealed Smart Terrain. Which brings your living room landscape right into your mobile game.

Rockstar asks retailers not to ship GTA V until September 16 – The posting limitation is simply to stop anyone receiving the game early, and it seems likely retailers will agree to Rockstar’s request.

Call of Duty goes mobile with Strike Team – Activision’s preternaturally popular console and PC manshoot has made yet another foray to mobile devices, albeit with surprisingly little fanfare. At $6.99, Call of Duty: Strike Team sits on the pricier side of the app spectrum, but manages to serve up an interesting take on a genre that’s growing all too familiar for my tastes.

Bullets and politics fly in ‘RoboCop’ reboot trailer – If you thought Hollywood was through with recycling 1980s entertainment, think again — there’s a new trailer for the reimagined “RoboCop,” and it’s just as violent and explosive as the original.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Claim: People who lie while texting take longer to respond – Ever been trading a flurry of text messages when there’s an awkward pause? Well, new research shows you probably should be suspicious.

Stiff upper lip? The many porn searches of UK politicos, staff – Servers in the UK Parliament’s network have been asked to find pornography 300,000 times since May 2012. Is this why the country’s prime minister wants a porn filter?

The secret society that can’t keep a secret – It seems all significant secrets eventually become public and it’s because people are people. Technology can’t keep secrets only people can keep secrets — and we are not wired to do that. Which is why secrets will always find the light of day no matter how powerful the technologies used to keep them in the dark.

Can this driving video game rejuvenate your brain? – Scientists find that a multitasking driving game called NeuroRacer makes the brains of octogenarians behave decades younger.

Millennials seen as having least analytical acumen – A recent survey says that Millennials are less likely to have strong analytical skills for data management, like their other-aged counterparts. Could this be right?

Something to think about:

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”

–    Albert Einstein

Today’s Free Downloads: – Windows Repair – – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including registry errors and file permissions as well as issues with Internet Explorer, Windows Update, Windows Firewall and more. Malware and installed programs can modify your default settings. With – Windows Repair you can restore many of your Windows settings to their original state. Also, this program also has the MalwareBytes Anti-Malware scanning engine built in to help rid your machine of infection before attempting repairs. – Advanced System Tweaker 2.0.0 – – Advanced System Tweaker is a central hub for any kind of tweak or anything else that can be done via registry files, commands and vbscript files. 100 new tweaks!

Simple System Tweaker – – Simple Performance Boost is designed to bring only the safest tweaks to your system to increase speed and stability.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Subverts Most Encryption, Works With Tech Organizations For Back-Door Access, Report Says – Edward Snowden, has revealed new details about the ability of intelligence agencies to crack supposedly secret communications. “The National Security Agency is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents,” reports the New York Times. According to the documents, the NSA “has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption” algorithms and technologies used to keep banking, email, commerce, and data transfers secret.

EU Parliament told to expect more revelations about NSA spying – At the start of an inquiry into American government communications surveillance programs Thursday, European parliamentarians (MEPs) were told to expect further revelations of mass spying by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Prominent hacker and Internet activist Jacob Appelbaum told the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) that more information about government spying, this time involving private home Wi-Fi, is bound to come to the attention of the public.

NSA’s pipe dream: Weakening crypto will only help the “good guys” – Ruining the foundation of online trust? Just collateral damage to spooks. Or, as the Center for Democracy & Technology—no radical group—added in a statement today, “The NSA seems to be operating on the fantastically naïve assumption that any vulnerabilities it builds into core Internet technologies can only be exploited by itself and its global partners. The NSA simply should not be building vulnerabilities into the fundamental tools that we all rely upon to protect our private information.” That neither Obama nor the NSA respect the force of this argument has been one of the more troubling aspects of today’s revelations. And it certainly doesn’t encourage “trust.”

Security expert Schneier calls for more to reveal gov’t spying methods – “The US government has betrayed the Internet,” wrote Schneier. “We need to take it back.” He goes on to call for whistleblowers who will help citizens understand what still isn’t known even after the massive Snowden leaks. We need to know “how exactly the NSA and other agencies are subverting routers, switches, the Internet backbone, encryption technologies, and cloud systems,” writes Schneier. For engineers who don’t have security clearances and haven’t received a National Security Letter, obligations to an employer “don’t cover illegal or unethical activity,” Schneier notes. “If you work with classified data and are truly brave, expose what you know… There’s safety in numbers, and this form of civil disobedience is the moral thing to do.”

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