Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 27, 2013

13 great Windows Phone apps for IT pros;   Windows 8 after a year: 21 hardware hits and misses;   Samsung stops you using local SIM cards when you travel;   Google Talk Glitch; Malicious browser extensions pose a serious threat;   Inserting images in Gmail messages could get you banned;   NSA: Surveillance court says no upper limit on phone records collection.

Smartphones: Transforming society into a sea of stupid – Technology enables us to reach out to people in ways that were never possible before, but it also brings out the very worst of humanity.

Google celebrates 15 years of its biggest product: You – Google knows more about you than ever before, and you like it that way. How did the popular yet controversial company convince you of its trustworthiness?

Android advantage: Installable keyboards – Android users can change their keyboard to one of several innovative alternatives. Neither Apple’s security concerns nor Microsoft’s fears about an inconsistent user interface justify blocking such programs.

Windows 8 after a year: 21 hardware hits and misses – Over the past year, I’ve used Windows 8 (and Windows 8.1) on at least 20 different PCs in a broad range of form factors, ranging from a Vista-era desktop to an amazingly light Haswell-powered Ultrabook with a Gorilla Glass cover. Here’s a quick tour of these devices, along with my lessons learned from each one.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

13 great Windows Phone apps for IT pros – A baker’s dozen of mostly free apps for server monitoring, remote access, network troubleshooting, password management, even scripting — right from your Windows Phone.

8 Reasons Valve’s Steam Machines Conquer the Living Room and 5 They Don’t – If you’re eyeballing Valve’s SteamOS and Steam Machines announcements as some kind of weird, last ditch attempt to save PC gaming — a “can’t-beat-em-so-join-em” tactical capitulation to consoles — you need to think again, and more carefully. This isn’t Valve sort-of-kind-of picking PC gaming up off the desktop and walking it over to your comfy plush chair and big screen TV. This is Valve spooling up a tactical nuke and painting a target on Microsoft’s, Sony’s and Nintendo’s backs.

Learn to build a PC in under two minutes – Building a computer is a great way to get a custom configuration, save some money and have fun. In this how-to video, we’ll show you how to build one in less than two minutes.

Samsung now region-locking phones; stops you using local SIM cards when you travel – Samsung has begun to region-lock its smartphones, with the company confirming that it is preventing new devices bought in one region using SIM cards bought in another, starting with the Galaxy Note 3.

Take control of the connected home with these smart hubs – With smart devices booming, all-in-one smart hubs are starting to emerge as well, offering the promise of a singular control center for all of your automatable gizmos. Here are the ones we’ve come across so far.

Google Talk Glitch Sends Messages to Wrong Contacts – Google Talk is gradually returning to normal after an early morning disruption caused some users’ messages to be delivered to the wrong recipients.

Facebook allows edits for typos and botched auto-corrects – Starting Thursday, Facebook’s website and its Android app will allow users to make changes to posts after they have been published. The feature will be coming to iOS soon, a Facebook spokeswoman said.

Don’t uninstall Ubuntu, just change the interface – If you haven’t installed Ubuntu on something in a little while, you may be in for a bit of a surprise when you see the Unity interface. Canonical has done quite a bit to make things user friendly, but some adventurous Linux fans may be interested in exploring new options. If that’s the case know this: there’s no need to uninstall Ubuntu, you can change the environment to suit your needs.

Lawsuit alleging Gmail ads are “wiretapping” gets judge’s OK – Even an e-mail sender who read the company’s privacy policies “would not have necessarily understood that her e-mails were being intercepted to create user profiles or to provide targeted advertisements,” stated the judge. The plaintiffs in this case haven’t consented implicitly or explicitly to have their e-mails scanned, and so the lawsuit can move forward, she ruled.

Bug alert: Inserting images in Gmail messages could get you banned – Beware Gmail users: Inserting images into the body of an email message can get you temporarily banned from your account. Google has acknowledged the problem but hasn’t been able to stamp it out. To reduce the risk of tripping over this issue, Google recommends that people use “a browser other than Firefox” when composing an email with images in its message body.

Security:

For hire: Elite “cyber mercenaries” adept at infecting Windows and Macs – Researchers from Russia-based Kaspersky Lab have uncovered a gang of hackers for hire who specialize in surgical strikes that quickly infiltrate suppliers to Western companies, steal highly sensitive data, and then vanish. Icefog, as the group of “cyber mercenaries” has been dubbed, is made up of six to 10 members who are able to infect both Windows and Mac computers with advanced malware that’s extremely hard to detect, Kaspersky researchers revealed in a report published Wednesday.

Malicious browser extensions pose a serious threat and defenses are lacking – The number of malicious browser extensions has significantly increased in the past year but many security products fail to offer adequate protection against them, while others are simply not designed to do so, according to a security researcher. Attackers have already used such extensions to perform click fraud by inserting rogue advertisements into websites or by hijacking search queries, but research has shown that this type of malware has the potential to cause much more damage.

Microsoft Announces General Availability Of Two-Factor Authentication For Windows Azure – Microsoft has announced the general availability of Windows Azure multi-factor authentication for IT pros and users. The new security capability is available for most any application used on the cloud infrastructure.

Facebook wins $3M injunction against spammer – Nearly five years after the fact, Facebook has been awarded $3 million in damages in its case against social-network spammer Power Ventures and its CEO, Steve Vachani. The order was issued Wednesday by Judge Lucy H. Koh of the United States District Court, San Jose Division. Power Ventures and its CEO were both found liable under the Can-Spam Act for sending 60,627 spam e-mail messages to Facebook members. Koh also granted Facebook permanent injunctive relief.

Company News:

PayPal launches small-business loan program – PayPal won’t actually lend the money—its initial banking partner is WebBank. But borrowers aren’t saddled with fixed monthly payments or late fees: Rather, they repay the loan and a pre-set loan fee out of sales revenues processed by PayPal. The cost of the loan depends on the amount borrowed (generally, up to 8 percent of total annual sales processed by PayPal in the last year), the percentage of sales receipts dedicated to paying the loan (between 10 percent and 30 percent), and the merchant’s PayPal track record.

Apple’s German patent suit shut down by a 2007 video of Steve Jobs – Big problem: Jobs showed off iPhone features 5 months before patent filing date. This is the same 2007 demo in which Jobs bragged of the iPhone’s multitouch features: “And boy, have we patented it!” While that may be true in the US, it was apparently less true abroad.

Facebook Starts Up Its Mobile Ad Network Again, Focuses On Improved Targeting – After a nine-month pause, Facebook is taking its mobile ad network out for another spin. “We’re running a second test to show Facebook ads off Facebook in mobile ads and on mobile sites. Our goal is to improve the relevancy of the ads people see. Since this is a test, we don’t have additional details to share,” a Facebook representative told TechCrunch.

Intel reportedly in talks with Samsung and Amazon for Web TV backing – In February, Intel announced plans for a Web TV service, something that would be akin to Hulu and Netflix, but that would also offer live TV broadcasts. The given timeline for the service was later in 2013, a time that is quickly nearing and has prompted the company to seek backers for the service. If such backers willing to distribute and fund Web TV aren’t found, the project may fizzle away, says sources.

Evernote Announces A Market For Physical Products, Including Post-Its … And Socks? – It’s entering a partnership with 3M and its Post-it note brand to develop a special line of notepads and a camera to take notes, record them, and then seamlessly transfer them into Evernote’s platform. That news was actually leaked last night, but today Evernote went one step further, announcing that these products and more will now be sold through a special online shop, called Evernote Market. (The company says the market will also be available in its desktop and mobile apps.)

CloudPassage Extends Cloud Infrastructure Security to Large Enterprises – Halo Enterprise extends CloudPassage’s patented Halo cloud security platform to large enterprises with complex security and compliance requirements. Halo currently protects more than 400 production cloud deployments and automates security for more than 10,000 new cloud instances monthly.

ManageEngine Launches OpManager Large Enterprise Edition – ManageEngine, the real-time IT management company, today announced the general availability of the Large Enterprise Edition of OpManager, the network and data center infrastructure management software. The new edition combines enterprise-grade scalability, speed, agility and affordability to offer a compelling alternative for companies seeking to replace their legacy network management tools from HP, IBM, CA and Microsoft.

3D Robotics Raises $30 Million To Legitimize Aerial Drones For Business – The very mention of the word “drone” often conjures up images of autonomous machines cruising over battlefields, but that’s far from the future 3D Robotics has in store for its own aerial machines. And thanks a recent infusion of capital, that future may be closer than you think.

Ford CEO reportedly top pick to replace Ballmer as Microsoft chief – Ford CEO Alan Mulally has taken pole position among potential candidates for the Microsoft CEO job, sources claim, despite the exec’s ongoing denials that he has ambitions to replace Steve Ballmer. Mulally’s name was pushed by Microsoft’s board as a possibility, it was reported earlier this month, but Nokia’s Stephen Elop was believed to be the frontrunner as he returned to the firm following the smartphone division acquisition. Now, AllThingsD reports, favor has returned to focus on Mulally.

Games and Entertainment:

Report: Microsoft making game cloud streaming service – Microsoft reportedly showed some of its employees a prototype of a game streaming service at an internal meeting today that will offer high end games on Windows Phones and low end PCs

Kingdom Rush Frontiers comes to Android – One of the all-time best tower defense games comes to Android after enjoying much success on the iPhone and iPad.

The Heist: How Grand Theft Auto V gets away with murder – The week of Grand Theft Auto V’s launch could have been a controversy cash-in for the publicity lovers at Rockstar Games. The game’s checklist of features reads like Tipper Gore’s personal hell: savage murders, psychotic heroes, strip clubs, an interactive torture sequence, and enough swears and offensive terms to do George Carlin proud.

Grand Theft Auto Online cash cards will cost between $3 and $20 – Rockstar has now confirmed that purchasing in-game cash with real money is a feature of Grand Theft Auto Online. The developer has reassured gamers that the game has been balanced so as never to require you to purchase GTA$, but the option is there for “instant gratification” and to get you where you want to be quicker.

Apple TV Gets Live MLS Games And Disney Junior Kids Content Via New Channels – Apple continues to roll out its staged partner additions, with two new channels appearing on the streaming media player today. The Major League Soccer channel brings soccer (or “football,” depending on how European you are) and the Disney Junior channel adds a third outlet for that media giant’s content to invade your Apple TV.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn impressions: Proud to be an MMORPG – Here’s the reason Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (FFXIV) is good: it’s bad. That is, it’s bad at following the conventional wisdom that says MMORPGs are bad when they’re too much like work, when they’re harder to play alone, and most of all, when they’re not accessible enough. The creators of FFXIV know that these are actually the trends making the genre bad, and by ignoring them, the game manages to be good.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Our favorite Google Doodles through the years (pictures) – Growing out of a simple “out of office” nod to Burning Man, the Google Doodle has turned into a regular decorative tribute. Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable of the bunch.

This is where Ctrl+Alt+Del came from – Bill Gates regrets it, Windows users generally hate it, and its become computing shorthand for hitting reset on a bad idea, but Ctrl+Alt+Del wasn’t always a bad idea. The much-maligned key combo came in for some criticism by the former Microsoft CEO at an interview this week, with Gates questioning “Who’s idea was that?” and blaming IBM for not replacing it with a single hardware button.

Just How Much of Musical History Has Been Lost to History? – Valuable original recordings and rare tapes have vanished over the years—a process that Jack White and the National Recording Preservation Foundation are looking to stop. (suggested by Michael F.)

James Franco showing sperm on Surface is the pinnacle of Microsoft product placement – “The Mindy Project” has displayed the best product placement for Microsoft’s Surface tablet yet, with guest star James Franco using it to display what’s portrayed as a video of his sperm.

Google Recently Made A Silent Shift To A New Search Algorithm, “Hummingbird” – Have you noticed recently that Google has gotten a bit better at offering up direct answers to questions? If so, there’s a reason for it: they recently flipped the switch on a new search algorithm they call “Hummingbird”, which focuses on parsing searches as complex questions.

Man finds his dead grandmother on Google Street View – A man in Oregon suddenly spots his deceased grandmother on Google’s all-seeing camera. He says it must be one of the last images of her.

Enterprises like making Android apps; losing interest in Windows – Enterprises are increasingly interested in developing apps for Android-based smartphones and tablets, showing how Google’s OS is becoming more accepted, according to a poll. At the same time fewer are willing to spend resources on Microsoft’s OSes. Only 26% of enterprise staff are very interested in developing mobile apps for Microsoft OSes, survey finds.

Attention-operated vehicle uses EPOC headset to detect distraction, shut down car – Distracted driving, whether due to cell phone usage or other reasons, is a major cause of car crashes and the related fallout both in the U.S. and abroad, something that has prompted the NHTSA to propose an in-car system to automatically block cell phones. The Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia, more commonly called RAW WA, has come up with a more novel solution involving a so called attention-operated car.

Something to think about:

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”

–     Erica Jong

Today’s Free Downloads:

CD Recovery Toolbox Free 2.1 – CD Recovery Toolbox Free was developed for recovering damaged files from different disk types: CD, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-Ray, etc.

Apache OpenOffice.org For Windows 4.01 – OpenOffice.org is a free, Open Source alternative to MS Office with a Word compatible word processor, a complete Excel compatible spread sheet program and a Power Point like presentation software and drawing program and also allows to save to PDF file.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA: Surveillance court says no upper limit on phone records collection – A U.S. surveillance court has given the National Security Agency no limit on the number of U.S. telephone records it collects in the name of fighting terrorism, the NSA director said Thursday. The NSA intends to collect all U.S. telephone records and put them in a searchable “lock box” in the interest of national security, General Keith Alexander, the NSA’s director, told U.S. senators.

U.S. lawmakers move to curb NSA collection of phone and other records – Bipartisan bill aims to make bulk collection of telephone records illegal – A bipartisan group of four U.S. lawmakers has introduced legislation that will prohibit bulk collection of phone records of Americans. Called the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act, the bill introduced by Democratic Senators Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Richard Blumenthal, and Republican Senator Rand Paul will also provide for the creation of a “constitutional advocate” to argue against the government in significant cases before the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It will also set up a process for making significant FISC decisions public.

Declassified NSA files show agency spied on Muhammad Ali and MLK – Operation Minaret set up in 1960s to monitor anti-Vietnam critics, branded ‘disreputable if not outright illegal’ by NSA itself.

Cybercom Activates National Mission Force Headquarters – U.S. Cyber Command has activated the headquarters for its Cyber National Mission Force, the one of its three forces that would react to a cyber attack on the nation, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, Cybercom’s commander, said at the National Press Club today. Speaking at the 4th Annual Cybersecurity Summit, the general, who is also director of the National Security Agency, said Cybercom teams are now fully operational and working side by side with NSA to defend the nation. “We will ensure that we have the best force anywhere in the world,” Alexander said. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Shutting Down The US Government Likely Won’t Slow The NSA’s Surveillance Activities – Shutting down the U.S. government wouldn’t lead to the NSA halting its controversial, and broad surveillance efforts. Leaked documents by Edward Snowden recently detailed the financial cost of the NSA and other intelligence efforts. The CIA is the most expensive chunk of the U.S. “black budget,” costing $14.7 billion. The NSA costs $10.8 billion.

8 Comments

Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

8 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 27, 2013

  1. delenn13

    Been a bit busy lately. Binging on Netflix watching OitNB with Kate Mulgrew and getting ready to start watching House of Cards and maybe this Derek everyone is talking about. Plus I am cursing and fighting with Google+ and YouTube for wanting to combine my profiles. This is BS. I don’t want Google announcing to the world/family/friends what “Hot” videos I am watching late at night. I have “Circles” in Google+ for a reason….and I thought Google understood; that is why they supplied them. If they are gonna combine my profiles and push what I am doing to my circles..what is the point of the damn circles? If I want them to know, I will tell them.

    Anyways, Nothing new. No decent free games or software. Sorry A friend of mine made some cool Mashup videos of OitNB. If you aren’t watching, I bet your girlfriend/wife is. So here is a gift…You can make points with the girlfriend..etc. Some of the language is NSFW but there is NONE of the lesbian sex scenes from the show in these videos.

    Janeway loves coffee. Red loves chicken. Hence the Name of the video. Captain Kathryn Janeway(Kate Mulgrew) as Piper Chapman from “Orange Is the New Black”. OitNB is new run away hit on Netflix. Seven of Nine(Jeri Ryan) plays the international drug dealer/lesbian lover.

    Chicken is the New Coffee – YouTube

    Janeway as Galina “Red” Reznikov talking about “The Chicken”.

    Chicken is the New Coffee Part 2 – YouTube

    Janeway as Galina “Red” Reznikov telling her Penguin/Eggplant Joke.

    “He’s not an eggplant” – à la Janeway – YouTube

    • Hey Delenn13,

      Best way to be – busy (sorta, maybe, kinda 🙂 )

      Totally agree on the Google thing – the envelope is not only being pushed by these guys – it’s being shredded. But, Google is beginning to pay the price. France, Germany, Ireland………… are just some of the countries currently with Google in their sights. Oh, and California – possible wiretapping charge?

      No wife – no girlfriend (nobody could live with me – far too geeky) – lots of female friends though. 🙂

      Thanks for the links.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Cannot believe Samsung are locking SIMs to the “home” market. Luckily, unlike the iPhone and iOS, we have a choice and I suspect a lot of folk will be voting with their feet. For myself, I have reverted to my old Sony Ericsson C902 dumb phone with a rolling monthly SIM-only contract. Now paying £10 instead of £30 a month and I can change with only a month’s notice. I can get the internet on my tablet using WiFi only, with Hotspot Shield if I’m away from home. It’s been a challenge to get used to predictive text again but I just don’t need a fancy phone. Another advantage is – no-one’s going to mug me for it, although there may be a fair amount of pointing and laughing!

    While on the subject of sticking two fingers up to the mobile manufacturers I love this idea:

    http://phonebloks.com/

    Kind regards
    John

    • My goodness John – how are you? 🙂

      I wondered over the Summer if perhaps you had ventured off to Venice, again. In any event, delighted to hear from you – good to have you back.

      Hope all is well.

      Best,

      Bill