Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 12, 2013

The new Chrome Apps: We pick the best – Last week the company launched Chrome Apps, a set of desktop-like applications based on Web technologies. Many of these apps open in their own windows and work offline, and some have advanced features such as USB device support. The current selection of Chrome Apps is small, but we’ve sorted through them to find 11 of the best. “Install”—either in Chrome for Windows or on a Chromebook—to get just a little more out of your browser.

Windows 8.1 review: The great compromise – Does Windows 8.1 atone for Windows 8’s sins? Yes and no, and that answer is utterly appropriate. More than being just another update, Windows 8.1 is a lesson in true compromise—for Microsoft, and for us.

32 Augmented Reality Apps for the Classroom: Augmented Reality for Education – App developers are building AR apps for fun, educational, and commercial uses. Below is a collection of AR apps that you can use with your students. You can thank South Carolina math and engineering teacher Chris Beyerle for curating this hi-tech collection.

Toys ‘R’ Us Unveils Next-Gen Tabeo Tablet for Kids – Toys R Us this week launched the new Tabeo e2 — a larger version of its children’s tablet. The next-generation kiddie slate will debut next month, featuring Android Jelly Bean 4.2, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a dual-core 1GHz processor, and a $150 price tag.

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Five SEO tools that will increase visitors to your website – Although it is possible to perform SEO manually, the process is often made easier through the use of SEO tools. Recently I launched two new non-technology related blogs (www.poker-run-boats.com and http://www.howicruise.com). As such, I have been spending a lot of time lately evaluating various SEO tools. While I don’t claim to have looked at all of the available tools yet, here are five tools that I have recently checked out.

11 up-and-coming cloud accounting applications – The playing field is becoming rather crowded as cloud startups vie for attention among SMBs against venerable offerings from Intuit, Microsoft and Sage.

SMS: Social messaging apps do more, for free – Over-the-top messaging apps have been growing in popularity for one very obvious reason: They’re free. Unlike SMS texts, OTT messages aren’t transmitted by your cell phone carrier and don’t cost you a dime.

Five great new ways iOS 7 will change the way you use your iPhone – Starting on September 18th, millions of users will have the ability to update their iDevice to the latest version of the OS. Provided you haven’t been installing the developer builds of iOS 7, here’s a quick look at some features worth getting excited about.

Tablet shipments will surpass desktops and laptops in Q4 – Tablet shipments will surpass desktop and laptop PCs in the fourth quarter of 2013, IDC predicted Wednesday. The outlook for PC’s has been lowered by 10% by IDC for all of 2013, highlighting the tablet dominance in the fourth quarter, IDC said in a statement. For all of 2013, PCs will still out-sell tablets, but IDC said tablets will surpass PC shipments for a full year by the end of 2015.

Raspberry Pi: How I spent almost $150 on a $35 computer – Billed as the $35 computer, the Raspberry Pi, has taken the DIY world by storm. It’s a cool project system but it’s no $35 computer.

The real reasons Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip makes sense – Don’t swallow Apple’s marketing lines that 64-bit chips magically run software faster than 32-bit relics. What the A7 in the iPhone 5S does do, though, is pave the way for Apple’s long-term future.

Virtual Perfection: Why 8K resolution per eye isn’t enough for perfect VR – The founder and creator of the Oculus Rift, is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to creating the best possible virtual reality experience. So when our recent interview turned toward the ideal future for a head-mounted display—a theoretical “perfect” device that delivers everything he could ever dream of—he did go on a little rant about what we currently consider “indistinguishable” pixels.

Apple’s Touch ID doesn’t match enterprise security’s fingerprint – Limited uses, no access for developers among limiting factors for enterprise security consideration.

Security:

Flash Player, Reader and Shockwave Player get critical security updates – Adobe released security updates for Flash Player, Adobe Reader and Shockwave Player on Tuesday to address critical vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to take control of systems running vulnerable versions of those programs.

Disk encrypting Cryptolocker malware demands $300 to decrypt your files – The original demanded payments of $100 to decrypt files. The new and improved version? $300. Clearly those in control of Cryptolocker realized that they weren’t taking full advantage of its criminal potential. As IT administrators and repair pros struggle to undo the damage, some are finding that giving in to Cryptolocker is the only way out. Amazingly, paying the Cryptolocker ransom does actually initiate the decryption process.

Firefox OS likely to face HTML5, Boot-to-Gecko attacks – The Firefox OS, a new contender in mobile operating systems, will likely see HTML5-related attacks and assaults on a crucial operating system process, according to security vendor Trend Micro.

Security of Java takes a dangerous turn for the worse, experts say – The security of Oracle’s Java software framework, installed on some three billion devices worldwide, is taking a turn for the worse, thanks to an uptick in attacks targeting vulnerabilities that will never be patched and increasingly sophisticated exploits, security researchers said.

Yahoo’s Mayer gives phone passcodes a pass – Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer confesses that she doesn’t use a passcode to protect her smartphone, which goes to show you how hard it is to get people to take reasonable precautions. But it’s also an improper risk for a major corporate leader.

Lawmakers question security of health insurance hub days from launch – Less than three weeks before a massive U.S. government health information database is scheduled to go live, some lawmakers have significant concerns about the ability of the system to protect personal health records and other private information.

Company News:

Apple stock tumbles following debut of new iPhones – After little movement on Tuesday, the stock falls in Wednesday morning trading. Might that have something to do with the price of an unlocked iPhone 5C?

AT&T’s ‘never forget’ 9/11 image provokes Twitter outrage – Even a company apology, after the image was removed, got dinged as insincere.

Yelp sues small San Diego law firm over alleged fake reviews – Miffed by “extortion” tactics, man took Yelp to small claims, then Yelp sued. Why would Yelp suddenly focus on a small target when presumably fake Yelp reviews are happening on a daily basis across its site? In fact, this is the second such case involving Yelp suing a business over supposed fake reviews.

Hallo, ‘House of Cards.’ Netflix launches in the Netherlands – As planned, the streaming video service spreads to the Netherlands, the latest move in an international expansion that has Netflix betting the bank.

Games and Entertainment:

Steam Family Sharing beta rollout begins next week – Steam already had a good setup in terms of being able to get and play games, however one bit that had been lacking was the ability to share those games with friends and family members. While that option is not yet available, it has been announced. This will be arriving as Steam Family Sharing and it will allow users to share their game libraries with others.

Ouya Continues ‘Free The Games’ Campaign Despite Criticism – Ouya is forging ahead with its Free the Games Kickstarter project, despite criticism that certain games have puffed up their support in order to win matching campaign funds.

Golem Arcana is a mobile-infused tabletop board game seeking cash on Kickstarter – Golem Arcana comes from the team behind the previous Kickstarter success Shadowrun Returns, an RPG video game. There are four clans in the game, each with four unit models. All the models come pre-painted so they’ll look perfect. The Kickstarter campaign includes some stretch goals that will unlock additional models for the game.

2013 Infected Wars Brings the Zombie Apocalypse to Your iDevice – This is your typical third-person zombie shooter, but it’s really heavy on the zombies. What’s that noise? Probably yet another zombie.

Off Topic (Sort of):

3-Sweep Creates 3D Models from 2D Images – In an incredible video presented at SigGraph Asia 2013, researchers demonstrated an amazing new method of deriving full 3D models from only 2D images.

Moving time-lapse vid of One World Trade Center construction – As New York’s beautiful One World Trade Center nears completion, a powerful time-lapse movie shows the skyscraper’s construction from start to near finish.

Cracked: The 6 Weirdest Things We’ve Learned Since 9/11 – I’m starting to think we overreacted to the terrorism thing. It hit me last year as I was standing in the naked airport scanner again, listening to the faint gasps and then applause from the monitoring booth, and realized that I wouldn’t put up with that hassle to ward off the threat of, say, lightning. Anyway, that made me look back at the lessons we’ve learned in the 12 years since the 9/11 attacks, and I’ve got to say, it’s not encouraging. For instance, we found out that …

Iowa Issues Gun Permits To The Blind, Allowing Them To Carry In Public – In a move sure to leave gun safety advocates scratching their heads, Iowa is issuing gun permits to the blind. The permits allow legally blind applicants to purchase weapons and carry them in public. Per state law, any attempt to deny an Iowan these rights based on physical ability would be illegal, reports the Des Moines Register.

Man and chainsaw no match for device that controls bleeding – The day a hospital in Memphis started using the iTClamp, a man who lost control of his chainsaw became the first in the US to use it — and be saved by it.

This Locking Cookie Jar Has a Timer to Save You from Yourself – This is the Kitchen Safe. It’s a $40 cookie jar of sorts with a time lock on it that prevents you from opening it until a point in the future you specify. You have only yourself to blame if it gets smashed to pieces. Or your kids. Or your spouse.

Spider silk turned into electrical wire with carbon nanotubes – Spiders are good for more than keeping insect populations in check and giving us all the creeps. A team of researchers at Florida State University has found a way to conduct electricity with spider silk. This advancement could bring spider silk wiring to the gadgets of the future.

Something to think about:

Obama claims the USA is exceptional. The City of Detroit was unavailable for comment.”

–     Anonymous

Today’s Free Downloads:

Hardwipe 3.0.3 – Hardwipe can be used to permanently erase, or to “hard wipe”, data on disk and portable storage media to prevent personal and sensitive business information from ever being recovered. It can wipe entire drives, wipe files individually, and sanitize unused drive space. It supports right-click context menus within Windows file explorer, or can just be used as a standalone application.

XnView Extended 2.05 – With XnView you can quickly and easily view, process and convert image files. XnView is able to read more than 500 different formats and then convert them to other formats such as GIF, BMP, JPG, PNG, multi page TIFF. XnView can also display video formats, many digital camera formats and more exotic formats such as Amiga IFF and Calamus. As well as offering easy image viewing, XnView also offers more advanced features such as Web page creation, contact prints, multiple conversion (format and transformation), slide shows, screen capturing and Twain support for scanners and digital cameras. XnView can be run without installation and this makes it perfect to be used as a “photograph album on CD”, especially as it is free of charge for private use.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA hands raw intel to Israel, hopes it respects limits on usage: NSA official: “We sometimes share more than we intended.” – Since 2009, the National Security Agency (NSA) has been sharing raw signals intelligence (SIGINT), including information about specific US people, directly with Israel’s counterpart to the NSA, The Guardian reported on Wednesday. According to the five-page memorandum of understanding, the agreement appears to be a one-way street. Israel, at least as far as this document is concerned, is not obligated to reciprocate.

Zuckerberg Says The “Government Blew It” On The NSA Scandal – “I think the government blew it,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg bluntly said about the NSA scandal today at TechCrunch Disrupt. “We take our role very seriously,” he said. “It’s our job to protect everyone who uses Facebook. It’s our government’s job to protect all of us, our freedom and the economy. They did a bad job at balancing this.”

‘Pirates’ in Germany Dodge the NSA’s Watchful Gaze – On a warm August night, inside a meeting room at the Berlin House of Representatives, American digital privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum pulled a small electronic device from his backpack and issued a challenge to parliament: The member who agreed to run the device, a custom WiFi node, from an office in the building could have it for free. The node boosts the signal of a worldwide encryption network called TOR. Short for The Onion Router (think protective layers), TOR software provides a web browser that cloaks IP addresses, granting anonymity to Internet users.

Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Mayer field questions about Prism – The CEOs of Yahoo and Facebook were each on the hot seat Wednesday answering questions about the U.S. government’s data surveillance programs. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, in an on-stage interview at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, said she couldn’t say more about the programs than Yahoo already has because doing so could be “treason.” “We can’t talk about these things because they’re classified,” she said.

VCs Doerr and Khosla on gov’t snooping: It’s a tradeoff – Tech luminaries Vinod Khosla, John Doerr, offer measured support for government surveillance programs meant to bolster national security. (The usual BS from the moneyed crowd.)

5 Comments

Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

5 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 12, 2013

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    “Windows 8.1 review: The great compromise”
    When this old computer goes to the great computer heaven in the sky I guess I would be stuck with Windows Blue (8.1) now reading this article and a follow-up that was linked in the story it appears that Microsoft has all these apps that they have installed on the computer such as Skype and Bing and several others and that the are CONSTANTLY UPDATING FROM THE CLOUD, well as a guy who ues DIAL-UP I can tell you that it would make the computer UNUSABLE for me. And secondly who wants all these apps in the first place? Especially with .gov and its intrusiveness, to put it mildly, in our privacy. Would there be a way to turn these “apps” and their automatic updates off? Why do all these “new and improved” have to be such a pain?
    Well at least there are SOME sensible folks out there, too bad you weren’t running Microsoft, but you wouldn’t be chosen because you are a HUMAN BEING, not a LIZARD, which apparently one must be to become and upper executive at MS.
    Wishing you, as always, the best,
    Fred

    • Hi Fred,

      Yep. 🙂

      You wouldn’t have to have all these apps running in the background in Win 8.1. For example – I don’t have a single Metro app connecting to the Web (all have been denied permission to do so). Personally, I find these apps worthless (not Win 8 – it’s terrific – highly recommend it) – but, these Metro apps are more suited for touchscreens; not a PC. As well, update policies, per individual application, can be set from within the application itself.

      As for “new and improved” – totally agree. It’s been my experience that occasionally one can get caught when the “new and improved” version of a freeware application, has less functionality than a previous version. Previous functionality is now only available in the paid version. Neat huh? 🙂

      Luckily, the website – Oldversion.com – (gazillions of older versions available for Windows, Mac, Linux), provides a nifty solution.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. Mal

    Hey Bill and Fred,
    I was the same when I bought Windows 8. All metro apps have been denied permission to connect to the internet, or have been uninstalled. I remember when I first turned on the new machine and thought, what is all this crap.
    I like to decided what connects, and when it connects, or if it connects.

    Cheers
    Mal

  3. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    Absolutely, CurrPorts has been on all my machines for years now. It’s always up and running too. There is also a 64 bit version on the Nirsoft site, which is great for those of us running 64 bit machines. I think everyone should have this great program.
    Cheers
    Mal