Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 13, 2013

Android essentials: The first 12 apps I install on every phone – As a guy who writes about and reviews mobile technology, I use a lot of Android devices. While they’re far from being the only apps I rely on, these 12 titles are the first I tend to install on every phone I use these days — the bare minimum I need to have a phone be workable as my primary device:

So you’ve lost your locked smartphone or tablet? Here’s how to get it back – You’re locking your smartphone now? Good. But how can people get it back safely into your hands if you lose it? Here’s a guide for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone users.

Motorola’s Droid Mini is pocket-size and powerful – Small, affordable but packs a big Android wallop. The $99.99 Motorola Droid Mini is compact and attractively priced yet squeezes in many of the slick Android features of its larger Droid brethren.

How to download streaming media and watch it anywhere, anytime – Watching a movie or burning through episodes of your favorite TV show is the best way to get through a long plane trip, a car ride, or a vacation in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, you can use third-party software and a few tricks to download streaming video from Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. Now you can watch your entertainment on your terms, even in places where your cherished Amazon Prime account is inaccessible.

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5 Surprising Things You Can Find on Twitter – Even a basic Twitter user knows the site is a great place to catch up with your friends or exchange notes and photos with friends and followers. Twitter power users will tell you that the site has a lot of value beyond sharing photos of your cats. Here are five unusual ways to use Twitter that you might not have considered.

Google Drive for Android gets an interface makeover – The company didn’t detail much about the app update on its Google Play page, writing only that the app has had some “bug fixes and other improvements.” But once you get the app downloaded and installed, it’s like unearthing a prize from the bottom of a cereal box.

How to install apps outside of Google Play – Android devices have the ability to “sideload” applications that aren’t available on the Google Play store. Here’s how you can do it.

SSDs do die, as Linus Torvalds just discovered: But SSD failure rates are still vastly better than hard disk drives – Linus Torvalds found out the hard way that solid-state drives (SSDs) aren’t invincible — and when they do fail, they can die without warning and at inconvenient times.

Top 10 SSDs: Not all storage devices are created equal – For Solid State Drives, performance is a given, so look at other factors such as warranties, MTBF and cost.

Here’s how to use Outlook.com’s long-overdue IMAP support – More than a year after Microsoft introduced its revamped, modern-style webmail service, Outlook.com finally—finally!—supports IMAP. If you want to use IMAP with Outlook.com, here are the settings to use in your email client:

Error on United Airlines Web site results in free fares – For a brief period earlier today, travelers shopping for fares on United.com were able to book tickets for a $0 base fare.

How to test your home Internet connection speed – Testing your Internet connection’s performance is a straightforward exercise. You don’t need any extra software—all you need is a computer with a Web browser. But there are also a few things you can do to make sure you are getting the most accurate reading of your Internet connection. Here’s what to do.

Pucker up for ‘The Kiss,’ a film shot with Google Glass – Two NY filmmakers don Google Glass as a storytelling tool for a lovely short film about lovers shot from both their perspectives.

Twitter music app launches on Spotify – Twitter puts its #Music app on the on-demand streaming music service, letting users listen to songs that are trending and follow favorite new artists to get playlists and alerts about new releases.

Security:

Shame on you! Report shows users lazier than ever about security practices – This is frightening. Things really have never been more dangerous on the Internet. The generation of users who grew up with computers is acting as if they can use computers without even the baby security sets. There’s no question that many of your friends and family members don’t. Grit your teeth, take off your “I will not fix your computer” t-shirt, and help them update their operating systems and programs. Get them to use antivirus software, turn on their firewalls, and secure their Wi-Fi access points.

Vodafone Germany hack compromised two million customer accounts – Vodafone Germany has confirmed that about 2 million customer accounts have been compromised as a result of a recent server attack. Vodafone has said they are already working with the authorities and that a possible suspect has been identified. While that name hasn’t been released to the public, there was talk of how the person behind the attack may have had “insider knowledge.”

Oracle finally adds whitelisting capabilities to Java – Oracle added a feature in Java that lets companies control what specific Java applets are allowed to run on their endpoint computers, which could help them better manage Java security risks. The new feature is called the “Deployment Rule Set” and was added in Java 7 Update 40 (Java 7u40) that was released Tuesday.

Hacker sentenced to three years for breaching police sites – A man said to be affiliated with the hacking collective Anonymous gets prison time for breaking into police and municipal Web sites in Utah, New York, Missouri, and California.

North Korea key suspect in hacking campaign on South Korea – A new campaign against South Korean institutes appears to be the work of North Korean hackers, according to Kaspersky Lab.

Company News:

Twitter files for IPO – Twitter announced — on Twitter, of course — that the company has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering. An IPO has been expected for the company for some time, and could generate revenue for the company to expand even further. But because the filing with the SEC was submitted confidentially, Twitter’s plans for growth under an IPO are not yet known.

Dell bought out by Michael Dell: going private within months – After a long bit of deliberation (or so it would seem), the board of directors for Dell have decided to agree to an offer from Michael Dell to take the company private. This deal is said to be valued at $24.9 billion USD and is being made in partnership with investment firm Silver Lake Partners. For consumers, this could mean things are about to make a drastic turn for device releases in the not-too-distant future.

Microsoft seeks iPad trade-ins – Microsoft is kicking up a notch its competition with Apple’s iPad with a new, limited-time trade-in offer. “Trade in your iPad, Get a min. $200 gift card,” according to the deal, outlined on the Microsoft Online store site. The gift card may be used toward the purchase of a Microsoft Surface or other products available through the Microsoft Store.

Facebook testing auto-playing videos on mobile – Facebook has announced that it will begin testing an auto-playing video feature in the News Feed on mobile devices, something that is said to be surfacing “in the coming weeks.” With the feature will come automatic video playing when one is scrolled to in the News Feed, much in the same way a video is automatically played on Vine.

Microsoft embraces Xbone name out of disrespect, buys Xbone.com – Major Nelson, otherwise known as Xbox Live’s Director of Programming Larry Hryb, recently stated on NeoGAF that he isn’t fond of the Xbone name. He feels the nickname disrespects the teams that put thousands of hours of development into the platform. Apparently, Microsoft doesn’t care for it so much that they purchased the domain in order to prevent someone from using it in a clever way.

Games and Entertainment:

Little Mermaid Re-Release Asks You to Bring Your iPad to the Theater – When “The Little Mermaid Second Screen Live” hits theaters next week, Disney is asking you to bring an iPad to the theater to use during the movie.

Small World 2 invades iOS with new multiplayer opportunities – The original iPad release was limited to two players: Small World 2 lets up to five get in on the action over Bluetooth and WiFi, or in a pass and play mode, if you don’t mind sharing your tablet with others. You can also play online in real-time with GameCenter and Faceboook friends, as well as folks using a Days of Wonder account—games will switch to an asynchronous, turn-based mode if your internet opponent slinks away from their device in disgust at their own incompetence.

Amazon keeps ‘Under the Dome’ under its umbrella – Its Prime Instant Video service again will exclusively stream episodes of the CBS summer sci-fi hit just four days after they air during its second season, as it did for the first.

Harry Potter spin-off films a go – Inspired by a textbook mentioned inside the Harry Potter novel series, “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” has been announced by author J.K.Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment to be appearing as a the first in a series of films coming soon (or soonish). This series of movies will begin by focusing on the adventures of the fictitious book’s fictitious author: Newt Scamander, and will be neither a prequel nor a sequel to any of the Harry Potter books or movies.

Free-to-play Final Fantasy Agito announced for Android and iOS – Mobile gamers who are fans of the Square Enix Final Fantasy franchise have good reason to be excited. Square Enix announced this week that it would be bringing a free to play Final Fantasy video game to Android and iOS smartphone users. The game will be set in the world of Final Fantasy Type-O.

Fan creates free, cutesy Game of Thrones retro platformer – The HBO series Game of Thrones is famous for its sweeping visuals, high-quality special effects, and droning yet rhythmic theme music. A fan-made video game version of Game of Thrones is quite the opposite. The PC game, created by Spanish game designer Abel Alves, is a retro-style 8-bit platformer. Interestingly, it’s still recognizable as GoT, and even follows a rough outline of the story.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How Zynga went from social gaming powerhouse to has-been – Gaming giant has been on a wild ride in just 5 short years—while losing $600M.

Pizzeria’s ‘show your boobs’ Twitter promotion goes bust – Drew’s Pizzeria in Champaign, Ill., seems to believe it’s a fine idea to go on Twitter and offer free pizzas for a flash. Yes, really.

Ray Dolby, creator of Dolby Labs, passes away at 80 – Whether you’re shopping for speakers, comparing laptops, heading to the cinema, or deciding on a home theater system, you’ll likely see Dolby audio of some variety. All stems from Dolby Labs, which was founded by Ray Dolby back in 1964. Unfortunately, Mr. Dolby passed away today in his home city of San Francisco at 80 years of age.

Voyager goes where no man or man-made vehicle has gone before: NASA makes history as spacecraft leaves the solar system – Clearing up the recent debate about the whereabouts of the 36-year-old space probe, NASA announced this afternoon that Voyager 1 has traveled 12 billion miles from the sun and for the past year has been flying through the plasma found between stars.

Resurrecting dinosaurs will remain a Jurassic Park dream – While the premise of the film—that dinosaur DNA could be extracted from the guts of a preserved mosquito that had recently dined on one—seems reasonable, the fragile nature of DNA and the huge expanse of time that has passed have led many experts to doubt claims to have extracted any DNA that old—including DNA from the insect itself.

The astounding evolution of the hard drive – From the room-size monster that cost a king’s ransom to the diminutive device that today costs just a few bucks, the evolution of the hard drive is an amazing story of an industry that’s continually delivering more for less.

Something to think about:

The Achilles heel of democracy is that a stupid person’s vote counts just as much as a smart person’s vote – and the stupid always outnumber the smart.”

–      Anonymous

Today’s Free Downloads:

Zoom Commander 1.0 – Zoom Commander, a Windows PC application that easily manages, controls, schedules & presents media (Audio, Video, Image) and interactive (Web, Flash) content on multiple remote Windows PCs, over the Internet or a local network. The Commander app is the central controller, manager and coordinator of multiple instances (copies) of the Presenter running on remote, network accessible computers.

Evernote for Android – Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Did NSA disguise itself as Google to spy? – If a recently leaked document is any indication, the US National Security Agency — or its UK counterpart — appears to have put on a Google suit to gather intelligence.

In wake of NSA spy scandal, Brazil seeks tighter control over data storage  Angered by reports that the U.S. government spied on her and other Brazilians, President Dilma Rousseff is pushing new legislation that would seek to force Google, Facebook and other internet companies to store locally gathered data inside Brazil.

Ditch your personal phones, use govt hardware for state secrets instead, French ministers told – In the wake of the NSA revelations, senior French government figures are being told to abandon personal devices and consumer hardware and to only discuss sensitive matters on government-provided mobiles.

Obama’s NSA surveillance review panel did not discuss changes, attendees say – The panel, which met for the first time this week in the Truman Room of the White House conference center, was touted by Obama in August as a way for the government to consider readjusting its surveillance practices after hearing outsiders’ concerns.But two attendees of the Monday meeting said the discussion was dominated by the interests of major technology firms, and the session did not address making any substantive changes to the controversial mass collection of Americans’ phone data and foreigners’ internet communications, which can include conversations with Americans.

Jesse Jackson on NSA spying – Veteran civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson talks to the Guardian’s Vikram Dodd about Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA surveillance and how they remind him of the US establishment’s treatment of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Reporter talks about what it was like working with Snowden – One of the journalists entrusted with former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s vast trove of documents said in an interview on Wednesday that it’s important to remember what the famed leaker could have done but didn’t.

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