Monthly Archives: September 2013

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 19, 2013

Media Misleadingly Links Video Games to D.C. Shootings – The list of outlets hopping on the video-games-by-implication train is disheartening. There’s Fox News (“DC gunman obsessed with violent video games, reports say”), the Wall Street Journal (“Friend Says Alexis Was Videogame Fan, Heavy Drinker”), the Houston Chronicle (“Report: Navy Yard suspect “obsessed” with video games”), The Mirror (“Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis heard ‘voices in head’ after playing violent video games up to 18 hours a day”) and dozens more pulling the video games quotes into their write-ups.

Half of Facebook-quitters leave over privacy concerns – Research from the University of Vienna has found that 48.3% of those who left Facebook did so because of concerns over privacy.

Amazon vs. eBay vs. Walmart: The Best Same-Day Delivery Service – Here are three options to getting your online product on the same day you order it and how they compare when I tested buying a Blu-ray player.

The 7 best things about iOS 7 – Any OS update is going to have it’s advantages and disadvantages, but I gathered up seven of my favorite new changes in iOS 7.

Five free but powerful desktop calendars – What if you need something simple; something easy to use and readily available? If that’s the case, you’re still in luck – there are desktop calendar apps out there that are ready to serve. Although you won’t be integrating with an Exchange server, you can at least enjoy your own personal desktop calendar and, in some cases, even link your Google calendar.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Build the ultimate Windows 8 home-theater PC for under $500 – It’s true: The best way to control your home theater is still with a PC. Forget all the hype about Google Chromecast and other assorted set-top boxes, dongles, and other gadgets. None of them can organize and play movies, music, and TV shows as well as a home-theater computer. A good HTPC can even take the place of your cable box and DVR. In this article, we’ll show you how you can build a home-theater PC that will play anything, stream anything, and record live TV, for as little as $500.

Google adding download feature to YouTube mobile apps – Google says that an upcoming feature to its YouTube apps for mobile devices (for Android and iOS presumably) will be the ability to download videos to their device “for a short period.” The video won’t be accessible outside of the YouTube app, and will be deleted after an as yet unspecified period of time. However, it does mean more flexibility when choosing when to watch certain videos.

Make iTunes Radio play more of what you want, less of what you don’t – iTunes Radio, Apple’s new Internet radio service that launches alongside iOS 7, gives you some limited control over what you hear—and what you don’t. Here’s how to make sure Miley Cyrus stays out of your stations.

iTunes Radio could push thirteen ads an hour – iTunes Radio users without iTunes Match subscriptions can expect to hear around thirteen adverts an hour, with brands like McDonald’s, Nissan, and Pepsi inking deals with Apple to put their marketing front and center in the new streaming media service.

Microsoft pushes faster, touch-friendly IE11 preview onto Windows 7 – Microsoft pushed a preview of its Internet Explorer 11 to Windows 7 users on Wednesday, adding a bit more speed to its already touch-friendly features. Although Microsoft still claims that the IE family is the fastest browser on the planet, the company has highlighted its emphasis on touch.

Look inside code for free with dotPeek – When the source code is unavailable, give dotPeek a try. One developer explains the numerous things he likes about the tool and the one aspect he doesn’t like.

BlackBerry messaging service rolls out to Android and iPhone this weekend – Amid rumors of layoffs and a possible sale of the company, BlackBerry announced some good news Wednesday: its growing BBM instant messaging service will be available for Android and iPhone devices in the next several days.

German chancellor’s drone “attack” shows the threat of weaponized UAVs – At a campaign rally in Dresden on September 15, a small quadrocopter flew within feet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere, hovering briefly in front of them before crashing into the stage practically at Merkel’s feet. Merkel appeared to be amused by the “drone attack,” but de Maiziere and others on the stage seemed a bit more unsettled by the robo-kamikaze.

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook’s aim isn’t to be “cool” – Although Facebook has seen phenomenal growth over its years, it also saw a substantial decrease in users this year, prompting discussion once again about how Facebook will fair over time as the “cool” factor wears off. Such a question was posed to Mark Zuckerberg in Washington D.C. at Newseum, and Zuckerberg responded that the aim of Facebook isn’t to be cool.

The new lifecycle of your old iPhone – After handling the entire digital expression of your life for one, two, or more years, the most mercenary and practical end that a smartphone can meet is to be sold off secondhand. Wheeling and dealing with used personal electronics is not a new business, but in the last few years, it’s been writ very large with the glut of tiny hand-computers we’re all using lately.

Security:

Hackers exploit critical IE bug; Microsoft promises patch – Microsoft on Wednesday said that hackers are exploiting a critical, but unpatched, vulnerability in Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) and Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), and that its engineers are working on an update to plug the hole. As it often does, the company downplayed the threat.

Shylock Financial Malware Back and Targeting Two Dozen Major Banks – Shylock banking malware infections are up and targeting 24 major banks in particular. The malware has also added domain generation algorithm capabilities and the IPs being generated are self-signed, researchers said.

Apple Touch ID: Do security advantages outweigh risks? – Tom Olzak examines the security pros and cons associated with Apple’s fingerprint authentication technology on the new iPhone 5s.

Criminals the primary users of Whois privacy services: ICANN – ICANN has found more ammunition for its fight to overhaul the existing Whois system, finding that more criminals are using Whois privacy/proxy services than regular users.

Company News:

Google launches Calico, an anti-aging company led by an Apple executive – Today Google announced it’s launching “Calico,” a company focused on “health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases.” The initiative will be a long term “moonshot” project involving healthcare and biotechnology (Google basically wants to stop you from dying).

BlackBerry To Cut Up To 40% Of Staff By Year’s End – Hey BlackBerry fans, here’s a bit of good news: BBM will officially land on Android devices starting on September 21, with the iOS version going live the next day. Hey BlackBerry employees, here’s a bit of bad news: there’s a decent chance that you or some of your co-workers are going to lose their jobs.

Hulu says ‘ello to a ton of new BBC shows – Anglophiles of the streaming world, unite! On Wednesday, Hulu announced a huge content acquisition deal with BBC Worldwide North America to bring tons of British shows to your TVs, mobile devices, and desktops. There’s so much content, in fact, that Hulu is rolling it out in four stages for its $8-a-month Hulu Plus subscribers.

Games and Entertainment:

Grand Theft Auto 5 takes more than $800m in day one sales – Grand Theft Auto V sales topped $800m in the game’s first day of availability, publisher Take-Two Interactive has confirmed, setting a record for the series in the process. GTA5, released on September 17, was Take-Two’s fastest selling title of all time, in fact, helped by no shortage of pre-release hype and some retailers opening at midnight for gamers to get their hands on it as early as possible.

The Best iPad Games – New iPads probably aren’t coming out ’til October. In the meanwhile, here are 75 awesome time-killers for your gracefully aging tablet.

PlayStation App brings social connectivity, information pages, gameplay access and more – Wrapping up the Tokyo Game Show keynote this evening, Sony introduced the PlayStation App, a mobile app for Android and iOS that brings device connectivity into the mix. With the app, users can take part in games on the go, as well as use a smartphone or such as a second screen, check out what friends are up to, and more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Short film ‘Noah’ will make you think twice about Facebook – This remarkable Canadian short probes how online experiences can undermine a relationship. Part of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, the 17-minute portrayal of teenager Noah Lennox’s unraveling love life feels eerily familiar, as well as a sign of things to come. The video has garnered nearly 1 million views since it was posted to YouTube on September 9.

Flying eagle point of view  (video 1:26) – Satisfy those daydreams of flying like an Eagle in this spectacular visual treat. Truly amazing. (recommended by Michael F.)

Facebook “Like” button just as protected as written speech, court rules – In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision, declaring that a Facebook “Like” is protected under the First Amendment, like other forms of speech. The Virginia case involves a former deputy sheriff in Hampton, Virginia, who claimed that he had been fired for “liking” his boss’ rival in a political campaign for county sheriff. In the original lawsuit, a federal district judge tossed the case, saying that a Facebook “Like” was “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.”

Three men face year in jail after posing as cops to cut in line for GTA V – The trio proceeded to bypass the long line of gamers that had formed outside the mall’s GameStop outlet and spoke with the store’s manager. Flashing badges and proclaiming they were NYPD, the manager agreed to let them purchase copies of the game and saw them on their way. Until that point the ruse had worked, but they didn’t count on a real copy being in the area.

Ex-pro athlete uses tweets to find house-trashing teens – Brian Holloway learned on Twitter that his house was being used by hundreds of teens for an unauthorized party and used their tweets to identify those he thinks are responsible for $20,000 in damage.

Something to think about:

You don’t remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened.”

–      John Green

Today’s Free Downloads:

Wise Care 365 2.81.221 – Wise Care 365 is a bundle of important registry, disk, and other system utilities for your PC. Easy to use and effective, Wise Care 365 is the good solution to improve your PC’s performance. Get Wise Care 365 and your computer will never run slow again!

Panda Cloud Cleaner 1.0.69 – Panda Cloud Cleaner is an advanced disinfector based on Collective Intelligence (scanning in-the-cloud) that detects malware that traditional security solutions cannot detect. The free disinfector.

Sticky Password Free 6.0.13.461 – Stay safe online and save time by letting Sticky Password fill in website forms and passwords automatically. Each license also includes the portable version and installs easily on your USB device or flash memory stick, so you’ll always have your passwords wherever you need them. Sticky Password incorporates the industry’s most powerful encryption algorithms and provides effective protection against phishing schemes, concealed key-loggers and identity theft.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Former NSA chief: ‘Morally arrogant’ Snowden will probably become an alcoholic – Gen. Michael Hayden, a former NSA and CIA chief, shared a lot of opinions during a discussion at a Washington church Sunday, beyond his thoughts on terrorists’ love for Gmail and the U.S. government’s approach to the Internet. Discussing the “tension between security and liberty” at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House, Hayden criticized the reporting of NSA surveillance programs, argued that society must make a choice between security and liberty, and took personal shots at NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Rep. Goodlatte Demands “Further Protections” From NSA Snooping – Today Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, stated that he is “convinced that further protections” of the civil liberties of U.S. citizens are necessary following review of the nation’s surveillance efforts. Rep. Goodlatte’s statement follows his attendance of a classified briefing discussing current governmental use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to collect information.

Zuckerberg: Thanks NSA, now people trust Facebook even less – It’s not just Facebook. The trust metrics for all major Internet companies have gone down since the NSA scandal broke, the social network’s CEO said.

US secret court publishes rationale for why spying on everybody is OK – The newly unveiled rationale has its roots in the old “you disclose your phone number to the phone company when you make a call” shtick. Swap “phone number” for “massive piles of metadata” and you get the reason everything done under the telecom metadata sharing program under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is legally legitimate.

NSA aims to plug holes that sprang Snowden leaks – In addition to allowing sensitive materials to be accessed only by people who have a documented need to review them, the tags will allow NSA leaders to better track what individuals do with the data, National Public Radio reported Wednesday. “Could someone today do what [Snowden] did? No,” NSA CTO Lonny Anderson told the news service.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 18, 2013

Five things missing from the iPhone 5s you can get in Android smartphones – The new Apple iPhone 5s will sell millions and require long lines this Friday, but as we read through the reviews we see Apple held back quite a bit with the latest high end offering.

How to securely erase an iPhone – With a release of the new iPhone 5s and 5c only days away, we can expect a lot of older handsets to be flooding the secondhand market or making their way into the hands of family members who are lower down the tech totem pole. But before you hand over your old iPhone to someone else, you want to make sure that all your data has been securely erased. You want to hand over the hardware, not your entire digital life!

10 underdog open source apps you need to try – You might never have heard of some of these, or perhaps you have, but you’ve dismissed them because you already have a program that does the same thing “just fine.” However, I think these are worth a second look for their numerous features and solid functionality. Let’s take a look and see if I can introduce you to some new software titles.

Firefox 24 fixes many serious vulnerabilities – Mozilla has released version 24 of Firefox and Thunderbird. Firefox 24, which fixes 10 critical and 10 lesser vulnerabilities, becomes the new Extended Support Release.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Katy Perry, Jon Hamm, and Britney Spears top list of most dangerous web celebs – These deadly celebs may not threaten you personally, but if you click the wrong link while searching for these stars, you’re at risk for drive-by downloads, phishing attempts, and scareware.

Virgin Mobile uses webcam to change YouTube ads every time you blink – Virgin Mobile has introduced what it called “BlinkWashing,” an advertisement system of sorts that — with permission — uses your webcam to track your eyes while watching a YouTube video, causing the advertisement to change every time you blink. The company is showing off the feature on its YouTube page, where anyone with a webcam can try it out.

Major advertising group quits Do Not Track standards body – The Digital Advertising Alliance has publicly and pointedly resigned from the standards body that had been lurching uncertainly toward a voluntary standard for online privacy. This might be a final blow to a standards effort that was already staggering.

White House asks for legal phone unlocking – Ban on unlocking cell phones went into effect at the beginning of the year when the Library of Congress opted not to renew a Digital Millennium Copyright Act exemption.

10 free SharePoint tools to make IT admins smile – The SharePoint software vendor ecosystem has produced many free tools that help you administer and configure a SharePoint farm on a day-to-day basis. The vendors would, of course, love to have you upgrade to their for-pay software products, but until you do there is much utility in these free tools.

iPhone fingerprint scanner sparks privacy worries – John Caspar, Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, told German news magazine Der Spiegel that the use of biometric technology for the sake of consumer convenience could become a hackers’ treasure trove, granting them access to permanent data that cannot be deleted or changed.

Quitting Facebook – what’s behind the new trend to leave social networks? – If you are ready to commit “virtual identity suicide,” delete your Facebook account, and say good-bye to social networking sites, you are not alone.

Anger Spreads Quicker Than Joy on Social Networks – Sites like Facebook and Twitter help us stay connected to others, but all this interaction is leading to a lot of anger, according to a new study from researchers at China’s Beihang University.

Frozen in time: Tips and tricks for photographing waterfalls – You’ve no doubt seen two kinds of waterfall photos. The first kind is easy to take: Just point your camera at the water and press the shutter release. The camera’s fast shutter speed will tend to freeze the water in place, and you’ll get an unremarkable photo of the scene. There’s nothing wrong with a waterfall photo like that, but you can do better. The other kind of waterfall photo? A slow shutter speed blurs the torrent into a majestic fog of water. That’s what we’ll talk about here.

Google Nexus 7 (2013) review: Improved spec, great screen, top value – The 2013 Nexus 7 is a sleeker, lighter and better-specified device than last year’s model. There’s still no Micro-SD card support, but good all-round performance and battery life, plus a competitive price, add up to superb value for money.

Apple resurrects old app versions to run on old iOS hardware – Apple has added new compatibility features that will allow users running a less-than-current version of iOS to download old versions of apps on the App Store, according to a post on Reddit late Monday (the dialog pop-up was recreated by Engadget). While the new feature serves customers in that the App Store will no longer deny them just because they haven’t updated in a while, it could put an unnecessary onus on developers, who were apparently not even notified of the change.

Security:

Microsoft rushes urgent fix for Internet Explorer – It’s not Patch Tuesday, but Microsoft has released a crucial update for Internet Explorer that you should apply immediately. Microsoft included a cumulative update for Internet Explorer in the 13 security bulletins that made up Patch Tuesday last week, and that update was considered Critical as well. Since then, though, a new flaw has been targeted by attacks in the wild, so Microsoft has responded with an out-of-band update.

Maryland state security sloppiness exposes personal data – Careless practices by the State of Maryland have exposed the data on thousands of background check forms to even the most casual hacker.

‘HoneyDocs’ lays irresistible bait for hackers – HoneyDocs is designed to let people know if someone has been snooping around their files. It works by using a Web “bug” — an invisible, 1 x 1 pixel that, if viewed, unnoticeably sends a piece of data back to a server. HoneyDocs is built around the concepts known as “hacking back” or “active defense,” Carey said. “You’re socially engineering the attacker that’s attacking you.”

China-based hacking group behind hundreds of attacks on U.S. Companies – Hidden Lynx hacking-for-hire group more sophisticated than others, including using malware targeting zero-day flaws, Symantec says.

Address Google Glass vulnerabilities with these best practices – Google Glass provides interesting potential, but it can also be susceptible to vulnerabilities.

Munich to hand out Ubuntu Linux CDs to ward off upcoming Windows Xpocalypse – The end is nigh, and the date of doom has been foretold. The Windows XPocalypse is set to unleash hell on April 8, 2014, and in a bid to preserve the security of its citizens, the German city of Munich is turning to an unlikely savior: Ubuntu Linux.

Company News:

Windows 8.1 brings back full retail versions as Windows SKUs change again – Microsoft has announced the pricing and packaging for Windows 8.1. Retail packages of Windows 8.1 will have a retail price of $119.99, and Windows 8.1 Pro will be $199.99. The Pro Pack, to convert 8.1 to 8.1 Pro, will be $99.99. Media Center will also remain available to Pro users for $9.99. As disclosed in May, upgrading from 8.0 to 8.1 will be no-cost. These packages will be full, supported, retail copies, suitable for installation on systems without an operating system at all, as well as for use within virtual machines.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud Surpasses 1M Subscribers, But Q3 2013 Revenue Falls To $995.1M – Adobe today reported quarterly earnings for its third financial quarter of the year. While the company reported another decline in revenue and earnings per share to $995.1 million and $0.32 respectively – something most analysts expected – the company also announced another quarter of impressive growth for its Creative Cloud subscription service.

T-Mobile rebuked over “flawed” marketing against AT&T – A lie is a lie, even in advertising, a lesson that T-Mobile is seemingly being taught by the National Advertising Division (NAD). This curious reprimand is based on certain claims made by the carrier in its marketing spiels that puts it in a very favorable but, according to the NAD, disputable position over AT&T.

Kaazing Two Times Faster and Five Times More Efficient for Real-Time Web and Mobile – Kaazing, the leading provider of live web and mobile communication and authors of HTML5 WebSocket, today announced the launch of the new Kaazing WebSocket Gateway 4.0. Through the company’s revolutionary standards-based architecture, the new platform significantly improves bandwidth utilization by up to five times, decreases latency by up to 50%, and reduces CPU utilization by up to 25% – bolstering performance and scalability.

YouMagine Brings Some Heat To The Free 3D Model Space – Is the 3D modeling space big enough for multiple competitors? Martijn Elserman, Siert Wijnia and Erik de Bruijn sure think so. They’re the founders of a new 3D object sharing site called YouMagine and were the creators of the Ultimaker, a $1,500 3D printer that comes in kit form and is a favorite with the DIY set.

Google reportedly replacing third-party cookies with AdID to alleviate privacy concerns – Google is reportedly working on an alternative to third-party cookies called AdID, an anonymous identifier that would help mitigate privacy concerns that exist with current third-party tracking cookies. Such has not been made publicly known, but will reportedly be part of talks slated to happen with industry members and related parties “in the coming weeks.”

Games and Entertainment:

Diablo 3 to permanently remove its auction houses in March 2014 – Blizzard has posted a bombshell of an update to the Battle.Net blog. As of 18 March 2014, it is removing both the gold and the real money Auction Houses from Diablo 3. The change will eliminate what has come to be an unavoidable part of the game’s loot collection system, especially as characters pass level 60 and begin to participate in the end-game content.

Megaman descendant Mighty No 9 headed to PS3, Xbox, Wii U – In the annals of Kickstarter history, Mighty No. 9, the descendant of much-beloved Megaman, has achieved widespread success, hitting and quickly surpassing its first goal, as well as a few after it. Now it has hit another milestone, and the announcement has been made that the game will be coming to the Playstation 3, the Xbox 360, and the Wii U, as well as availability through Steam.

Bugbear’s Next Car Game includes amazing vehicular destruction – The maker of Flatout, Ridge Racer Unlimited, and Sega Rally Revo is no stranger to mad Mustangs and violent Vipers, so to drive home just how serious the team is about car destructibility, they’ve released a behind the scenes video all about their work in that area. It’s basically two and a half minutes of the same car crashing over and over — and damned if it isn’t entertaining.

Hulu inks deal with BBC for 144 shows, including ‘Doctor Who – Deal is the video-streaming service’s largest content acquisition since taking itself off the auction block in July, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why aren’t we building a space elevator? – It has the potential to revolutionize our relationship with space, and we have plans for building one. So the question becomes: What’s the hold-up?

The human recipe includes a kilo of calcium, a pinch of salt – Though we do seem terribly complicated, it turns out that a human being can be built, completely intact and complete, with just 22 ingredients. From A to zinc, evolution has shaped just these two dozen or so elements to make up everything from Mozart to Manson.

Is There a Word for That? – Historically, the British have looked upon American word inventions with all the enthusiasm of an art museum curator examining Elvis-on-velvet paintings. In a famous exchange with American lexicographer Noah Webster, an English naval officer named Basil Hall expressed dismay about the many new words he heard while visiting America in the late 1820s. Webster defended the verbal creativity of his countrymen. If a new word proved useful, he asked, why not add it to the vocabulary? “Because there are words enough already,” responded Hall. (recommended by Michael F.)

Disney Researchers Create A Way To Make Geared Figures That Look Amazingly Life-Like (video 5:10) – For centuries the creation of geared automata has been sort of a dark art. To design a mechanical device to move like a human or animal was a trick in itself and to build the gears and rods necessary to propel the thing was even trickier. A team of Disney researchers, however, have created a system that will let puppeteers and fans of clockwork build geared robots using 3D printings and some metal rods. Most important, they look far cooler than this dude.

Interview: Dr. Jillian Roberts on children, apps, and education – What exactly is the intersection of education and entertainment on a smartphone or tablet, and how do you use that to reach children with your content? I sat down recently with Dr. Jillian Roberts to discuss her sexual education app for children, and the process that lead her to creating this experience.

Something to think about:

I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

–      Robert McCloskey – State Department spokesman

Today’s Free Downloads:

Wise Video Downloader 1.53.73 – Easily search and download high-quality, high-definition videos so you can save them to your local computer or server.

Youtube Downloader HD 2.9.9.1 – Youtube Downloader HD is a free tool to download videos from YouTube and save it to your local computer. The videos can be converted to avi video format or to mp4 (compatible with iPod, iPhone).

Clean Master for Android 3.8.0.342 – Clean out your junk files, clear out your private information, uninstall and backup, and kill rogue apps.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Spying Justification Declassified – The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), America’s super-secret spy court, has finally revealed the legal justification for the National Security Agency’s phone record dragnet program. According to the decision, judges had declared that every single call record was relevant to the fight against terrorism, and thus legal for spy agencies to collect en masse. Perhaps most importantly, telecommunications companies never challenged the NSA’s authority to collect the data.

BitTorrent and Madonna join forces for free speech – BitTorrent is making its biggest move yet in its quest to become a legitimate source of legal content: partnering with Madonna. The queen of pop is using BitTorrent to distribute her new film, secretprojectrevolution, for free beginning Sept. 24. Madonna co-directed the 17-minute movie with photographer Steven Klein in an effort to raise awareness about human rights—specifically, free speech.

LinkedIn files motion for greater transparency on spy requests – The social network joins Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others in effort to reassure customers by winning right to publish specific numbers on government requests for user data.

Verizon exec slams Google, Microsoft, Yahoo for NSA lawsuit grandstanding – Verizon says that the issues raised by the Snowden leaks are questions for society, not press releases.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

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.

Security:

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 Box.com/notes. 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.

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Using Artisteer to Develop WordPress Themes

Your theme is the first thing visitors will notice when arriving on your site. Although it may be the content that drove them there in the first place, it’s the design that will help them decide on whether to stay and read more.

The Artisteer program is one of those methods that can help you develop a great looking theme tailored to your desires. There are many features in this program that make it a wonderful tool, especially for those who plan on developing more than one website.

1. User Interface – The user interface of Artisteer is incredibly easy to manage. Each tool is self-explanatory and nearly every aspect of the website can be altered. The layout of the tools is chronological and will help any user customize a blog theme from top to bottom, literally. Adding images, font sizes, icons, and more can be altered to make your site look and feel exactly how you want it to.

The WYSIWYG editor will show a representation of what your page will look like when a visitor is browsing it. Any aspect you change can be seen within Artisteer and you can make easy adjustments in order to produce the theme you are envisioning.

Whether you need a specific pixel dimension for your blog’s width or imposing borders around the blog itself to give it a drop-shadow effect, the Artisteer software can handle it all. While the preset suggestions will randomize a look and feel for the website, you can change any aspect you wish in order to create the perfect look to fit your niche.

2. Graphics – Although you don’t need Photoshop or Illustrator to create impressive graphics, it doesn’t hurt if you have these skills. You can develop all of your graphics, icons, header images, and more using any image development program you have including Paint. As long as your image is saved as a supported graphic type such as a JPG, PNG, and others you can add them to your theme.

These images can range from small icons or bullets to as large as background images for your site. There is truly no limit to what imagery you can use within the software. However, keep in mind that your website could perform poorly the larger and more elaborate your images are.

3. Exporting – When you are done with your masterpiece, simply export the theme as a .zip file that is usable by WordPress. Once you are in your Admin panel for WordPress, browse and install the theme like you would any other. Your website will look exactly as it does in the Artisteer WYSIWYG editor.

Artisteer will allow you to save these .zip files for installations or .artx files for editing your templates for future updates. You may find that a specific font or color scheme isn’t widely accepted by your target audience and using the .artx file in Artisteer will allow you to make quick changes and theme version numbers to keep track of your progress.

Looking to add that personal touch so that you get credit for developing such a beautiful template? Artisteer will allow you to embed your name, link to your website, and version information within WordPress so that anyone using or seeing your template will know who made it and where it came from. This could help others click on the information at the base of the page to drive additional traffic to your own website.

4. Ideas – Artisteer gives you the ability to create as many themes as you want for any occasion. You can make a different theme for your blog corresponding with the seasons. Holidays can be accentuated by developing graphics and color schemes that match such as cool colors and white for winter. The possibilities for design are only limited by your own imagination. Backgrounds, overlays, and even java video can be used in this development program to provide a unique look that no one else in the world has.

5. Extenuation of Development – Artisteer doesn’t just make themes for WordPress. A wide variety of other content management systems are also able to utilize these templates such as Joomla, Blogger, and Drupal. You could provide themes and designs for friends and family. You could even assist others in a professional atmosphere by helping them develop an attractive site using the Artisteer program.

6. Continued Support – As Artisteer has gained so much popularity as being one of the best template and theme design programs from the various content management systems, there is little fear from the software becoming outdated. Versions and upgrades are constantly available from Extensoft, Inc. and available forums are constantly utilized by users in order to share knowledge and help with virtually any problem should one arise. The responsiveness of the staff is impressive and they can be very helpful if you’d rather contact them directly.

You can sift through the websites looking for that perfect theme for your blog, or you can create exactly what you want. You can pay someone to develop your themes for you, or you can buy Artisteer and make them yourself whenever you want.

You don’t need extensive programming or graphic design knowledge in order to create a lavish theme perfect for your content. You only need a basic idea of what you want your blog to look like.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.

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Filed under Blogging Tips, Blogging Tools, Software, Web Site Design, Website Builders, WordPress

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 16, 2013

Android’s backup feature means Google knows most of the world’s WiFi passwords – As shipment numbers have shown many times, vast quantities of the technology-using public own or have owned an Android smartphone or an Android tablet, and as such have used Google’s operating system to log onto their own and likely other WiFi networks. What isn’t so commonly known is that those WiFi passwords are stored by Google as part of its backup feature, giving Google the passwords to many of the world’s wireless networks. If legally compelled to, it is entirely possible that Google could be strong-armed into providing the wireless passwords it has stored for a specific Google user, allowing law enforcement or government entities to access a network, no hacking or erstwhile means necessary.

How to find out what the data miners know about you – To access your data, you have to surrender your name, address, email, phone number, and the last four digits of your social security number. Acxiom collects this, it says, in order to verify that you are really you and not someone pretending to be you. Once you’re in, you can peruse data in six categories.

What can IT do in the fight against government surveillance tactics? – A lot of what the government has been doing in secret is made possible in part because of IT pros like you. This isn’t to say that most of the honest workers in IT are complicit, but data leaks out to the government because companies are forced to play by secret rules, with laws no one knows about, and warrants issued without any real due process. But clever people can come up with quite a few alternatives to simply rolling over and abandoning all sorts of online privacy.

Split Chrome tabs into multiwindow, preset layouts with Tab Resize – For times when you find yourself engaged in a research project or otherwise tab-heavy browsing session, there is Tab Resize for Chrome. This extension lets you split tabs into multiple windows, arranged in a number of preset layouts. It’s particularly useful on larger displays.

Epic Privacy Browser blocks cookies, trackers, ads and more – For Web surfers tired of having their browser activities tracked and who want to make anonymous searches, the new Epic Privacy Browser from Hidden Reflex may be just the thing with the added bonus of some faster download speeds. The browser, free to download, proxies all search requests so they can’t be traced back to actual source IP addresses, and it has a one-click proxy feature that can invoke the same proxy for any other type of browser activity, according to Alok Bhardwaj, founder and CEO of Hidden Reflex.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

After the Deadline review: Every writer needs an editor, and this one works for free – Available as an add-on for Chrome, Firefox, OpenOffice, and WordPress (as well as some lesser-known programs), After the Deadline goes well beyond the basics of spelling and grammar checks. It conducts stylistic analysis, outlining passive voice usage and other pitfalls common to fiction writing. Its implementation is very unobtrusive, with suspect words or phrases underlined in red for spelling errors, green for grammar suggestions and blue for style issues. After the Deadline is free for personal use and requires an Internet connection.

5 Other Video Sites Like YouTube – You love it—but you may hate it too. Here are some useful alternatives to online video-streaming giant YouTube.

Use System Restore as a recovery tool in Windows 8 – The venerable System Restore, which has been around since Windows XP, is still a recovery tool that you should keep in mind when it comes to getting your system back up and running in the event of a problem. In fact, System Restore is one of the options that you can run from the Recovery Drive. However, you can still run and configure System Restore right from within Windows 8.

Disk Investigator review: Find deleted files and more with this free utility – When you launch the free application, it quickly analyzes your disk and presents you with a list if information about its size and contents. The information will likely fly over the head of anyone but the geekiest of geeks: It’s all about clusters, cluster size, zones, and more. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as the main window displays strings of letters and numbers that are completely indecipherable to most humans.

Android: Perform a batch removal of apps with Easy Uninstaller – Jack Wallen take a look at Easy Uninstaller, a free app that helps you remove batches of apps from your Android tablet.

Email marketers panic as Gmail’s Promotions tab does its job – Google’s recent platform-wide implementation of smart tabs in their email client may have been a head scratcher from some, but as pleading emails from mailing list managers come pouring in it is clear they made the right choice.

Microsoft updates display ‘worrisome’ decline in quality – Microsoft on Friday acknowledged it had rewritten four of its security updates issued just three days earlier after customers reported never-ending demands that they be installed, even though they had been. The repeated installation requests followed Microsoft’s yanking of a non-security update last week, as well as buggy fixes shipped in August and April that blocked access to server-based email mailboxes and crippled Windows 7 PCs.

Google’s Eric Schmidt downplays NSA spying – Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt says he was worried that the NSA spying scandal could “split” the Internet.

Verified Twitter Users Can Now Filter Out the Noise – Twitter is providing another perk to its Verified users: filtering unwanted mentions.

Security:

Dropbox takes a peek at files. But it’s totally nothing, says Dropbox – Dropbox takes a peek at some kinds of uploaded files. That’s normal, the Web storage service says. The disclosure comes after a test of the service found that several “.doc” files were opened after being uploaded to Dropbox. Still, the behavior may make some people nervous. Security experts generally recommend that for stronger privacy, users should encrypt documents before transmitting those files to Web-based storage providers.

How the cops watch your tweets in real-time – Consider BlueJay, the “Law Enforcement Twitter Crime Scanner,” which provides real-time, geo-fenced access to every single public tweet so that local police can keep tabs on #gunfire, #meth, and #protest (yes, those are real examples) in their communities. BlueJay is the product of BrightPlanet, whose tagline is “Deep Web Intelligence” and whose board is populated with people like Admiral John Poindexter of Total Information Awareness infamy.

Aged, vulnerable Java, Flash abound, Websense finds – Businesses are still ignoring the threat posed by out-of-date versions of Java, with barely one in five running the latest version during August, security firm Websense has reported.

Android Trojan appears to launch off earlier botnet – The Obad.a Android Trojan first analyzed by Kaspersky Lab in June has turned out to have an innovative and predatory capability to piggyback on botnets controlled by third-party criminal networks. This behavior was spotted when the firm noticed that smartphones that had been infected with the hugely successful but apparently unrelated Opfake.a Trojan were being used as a launching pad for Obad.a to send malicious links to everyone in that victim’s address book.

Report: French ministers told to install Android sandbox if they want to use smartphones – As well as his warning about smartphone use, Ayrault’s chief of staff told government officials not to store sensitive data in cloud services outside France, and not to use personal email services or SMS to discuss sensitive matters. The letter also reminded them of the “elementary rules of security,” including guidance on the creation of strong passwords, and warnings about phishing attacks and the dangers associated with USB memory sticks.

Company News:

LinkedIn’s Market Cap Passes Salesforce – For the second week in a row, LinkedIn’s market capitalization finished higher than Salesforce.com. Linkedin ended trading on Friday with a $32.56 billion market cap while the Salesforce market cap was $29.59 billion. Salesforce is a darling of Wall Street and has long been the symbol of the SaaS and new world of the enterprise, the first to surpass $1 billion in annual revenues. But with LinkedIn’s rise, the financial markets have another company to point to as a leader of the SaaS world.

Rdio to offer free music service as part of Cumulus radio pact – Online subscription music service will get “broad access” to the terrestrial radio giant’s programming to help it better compete with Spotify and Pandora, the New York Times reports.

HTC’s America division lets go of 20-percent of its workforce – HTC’s American division has had a round of layoffs this past week, with the division shedding approximately 30 contractors and employees. Though the number is not as large as some layoffs we’ve seen in past months from other tech companies, the American division only has about 150 contractors and employees, meaning this layoff represents about 20-percent of its workforce.

Microsoft pulls iPhone-bashing video, says “it was off the mark” – Microsoft recently posted a video advertisement on YouTube, a lengthy piece that was a parody of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c handsets the Cupertino company recently unveiled. The video was both long and lacking in humor, and beyond that had a few head-scratching elements that all culminated in an advertisement that earned more criticism than anything else.

Netflix follows the pirates to decide which shows to pick up – While an opponent of illegal downloading, the streaming service tracks popular piracy targets to determine which programs to offer its customers.

Games and Entertainment:

Glory Days: Völgar the Viking dredges up, then pummels, your fondest memories – An aggressive, almost tribal soundtrack edges you along as you wade through all manner of nasty lizard things, rendered in 16-bit glory. Corpses explode in a wonderfully violent shower of blood and bone with every swing of your sword or volley of your limitless supply of spears. As you roam, you’ll find chests that’ll award you with increasingly powerful equipment, that’ll be stripped off piece by piece as the endless waves of foes whittle away at your resolve.

Xbox 360, 3DS again top the games industry in August – Total sales were up a bit in August, but hardware sales in the U.S. plummeted in anticipation of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Ingress real-world Android game update 1.35.1 rolls out on Google Play – Ingress is an Android game that turns the real world into a global game it says is full of “mystery, intrigue, and competition.” The game is still a closed beta, but the latest version 1.35.1 has rolled out for those who have an invite code, bringing with it some performance boosts, fixes for known bugs, and an agent profile for monitoring one’s stats.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Software turns 2D objects 3D; lets you ‘reach into’ photos; bends your mind – With 3-Sweep, you can “grab” an object in a photo and turn it around to see what it looks like from different angles. Check out the demo video.

Weird Science quantifies just how much haters gotta hate – Haters really do gotta hate. Typically, we tend to view people’s responses to items as being a product of the item’s properties. But some researchers considered the possibility that some people may have inherent tendency to have positive or negative reactions to things—that people are likers or haters.

New Study Shows How Social Influence Can Significantly Manipulate Online Ratings – Digital ratings platforms proliferate our lives and influence the consumption of wide ranges of goods and services. Given their widespread use and relative transparency, most users have come to expect that the comments and ratings on sites such as TripAdvisor, Angie’s List or Open Table accurately portray the wisdom of the crowds. But recently published research should make you change your expectations.

Aussies start paying for beers in Bitcoin – The Old Fitzroy will become the first pub in Australia that will allow customers to buy their beers in Bitcoin. The pub in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, will start accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment on September 29, with Bitcoin Sydney on hand to help new-timers to the crypto-currency. The pub, which has been around since at least 1907, will use QR codes to handle transactions. With Bitcoin wallets able to be accessed via smartphones, customers simply scan the QR code and authorise the transaction in order to pay.

An invisible skyscraper is being built in South Korea – Dubbed Tower Infinity, the building is designed to achieve invisibility through a rather simple method. It will employ a system that uses optical cameras to project what’s behind one side of the building onto an LED facade on the opposite side. So, if you’re looking at the building from the north and a rainstorm is behind it to the south, you’ll see the rainstorm on that north side.

US bid to name “Science Laureate” hits snag with climate denialists – The bill is likely to make it back to the House floor, but only after going the full route through committee, and possibly in an amended form. But, in the meantime, the first attempt to pass it has provided a window into how some groups have become so frightened of the policy implications of basic science that they will attempt to limit the probability that the public will hear about it.

Something to think about:

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.”

–     Christopher Morley

Today’s Free Downloads:

Shutter – Shutter shuts off your PC on schedule, but it can schedule and execute a whole range of actions and events. Its no-nonsense interface and easy-to-set commands mean anyone can use Shutter to schedule and automate all kinds of tasks. Shutter runs in Windows NT to 8 and is free for non-commercial users.

Rufus Portable – Rufus Portable creates a bootable USB drive that can help you recover your system when very bad things happen to it. When your PC won’t start, the bootable disk you created in a rare moment of foresight will often let you boot into Safe Mode or System Recovery, where you can fix the problem and reboot normally. If the patient’s condition is more serious, you might even need a bootable disk to recover your OS, disk, or entire system from the full backup you also made (you did, right?).

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Allegedly Spies On International Credit Card Transactions – Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper – increasingly joining the NSA revelations train – reports today that the intelligence agency is interested in international credit card transactions and may have found a way to monitor payments processed by companies including Visa. Spiegel alleges it has even set up its own financial database to track money flows.

NSA chief shared only part of the story at Black Hat – When NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander addressed the Black Hat conference earlier this year, he painted a rosy picture of how well the agency controls access to its phone record database, but he never brought up cases when those controls broke down, unauthorized access was made, and data was shared among analysts who shouldn’t have seen it.

FISA intelligence court will reveal some of its secret legal opinions – In an unprecedented order published today, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) says that it will make public some of the legal opinions that justify the government’s bulk data collection. Until now, those opinions have been secret.

Magic Lantern: Keyboard Recorder of the FBI – Rumors of Magic Lantern first hit the internet airwaves when Bob Sullivan, a prominent journalist and co-founder of MSNBC network, accused the FBI for using powerful keylogger software to aid in its investigations of extortion and harassment. A shocker came when it was revealed that Magic Lantern could not be detected by popular antiviruses, developed by security software giants like Norton and McAfee. This was so because these big companies had formed an alliance with the FBI. They purposely left a backdoor for Magic Lantern to pass through their walls and begin operation without any restrictions.

Silicon Valley Luminaries Got Grilled On The NSA At Disrupt, Here’s How They Responded – Over the course of the three day conference, Arrington interviewed 13 of the most influential people in the tech industry on stage, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Dropbox founder Drew Houston and Paypal co-founder Max Levchin also discussed the NSA with other TechCrunch writers. Let’s take a look at the highlights from their talks. Full videos of each speaker’s comments regarding the NSA, and some analysis, are below.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

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.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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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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.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

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.)

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