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.

Security:

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 BuzzFeed.com, 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.”

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