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.



Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 17, 2013

  1. Joe Bleau

    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

    I imagine Neville Chamberlain said something similar in 1938

    • Hi JB,

      True – subsequent events gave lie to this mindset, as you know. I wonder though, if your reference is perhaps a non sequitur – inasmuch as your assumed conclusion (in referencing Chamberlain and the aftermath of his “Peace in our time”), infers a relationship between events that bear little relationship to each other.

      On the other hand, Stewart’s simplistic sound bite does nothing to advance the cause of those calling for restraint.

      Thanks for commenting.



  2. Keith

    Yes the USA definitely needs war restraint before some country decides to fire the BIG NUKE at us. Search “World Military Spending” and you’ll see that the USA has 5% of the world population, but spends 50% of all world military spending! China is 2nd with 13%.

    • Hi Keith,

      We should expect nothing less in a Corporatocracy. The exploiters will continue to screw us unabated until such time as the second American Revolution gets underway. We’re almost at that tipping point, I suspect.