Monthly Archives: September 2013

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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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 11, 2013

10 free Google Chrome extensions to boost productivity – These Google Chrome browser extensions will help you manage tabs, avoid Flash, save files to Google Drive and more.

What you need to know about the iPhone 5S and 5C – Apple has now unveiled the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, here’s a breakdown of the major features of each device.

How Much Does the iPhone 5C Cost In My Country? – The new iPhone 5C costs $728 in China and $735 in the UK. See how much it costs in its other launch markets.

Remember the iPhone 4S? Apple makes it an 8GB freebie – As it has done in previous launches, Apple moved the two-generations old model down to its lowest tier, making it free with a two-year contract.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Forget the new iPhones. Microsoft — yes, Microsoft — is a king of smartphones – You’ll be inundated with iPhone news today, but the truth is, Microsoft is one of the kings of smartphones. Its technologies power a majority of smartphones today and it’s reaping billions of dollars annually from it. And that will accelerate in the future.

Get Organized: 5 Tips for Using Dropbox for Organization – These five simple strategies will help you get a little bit more out of your file-syncing and storage service, and keep it neat and tidy, too.

Free vs. paid: when should your small business shell out for a hosted service? – In most cases you can take advantage of these services without spending a cent thanks to generous free entry-level plans. But while these unpaid options are understandably attractive, there are times it makes sense to pony up for a more premium offering. We took a look at several hosted services small businesses commonly use to determine which are worth paying for and when.

Gmail gets a makeover for feature phone browser – Gmail is designed not only for smartphone users, but for users with other devices such as feature phones as well. Google has announced some tweaks to Gmail for those feature phone users.

Getting around Google+: 25 tips and tricks for power users – Thanks to advanced options and third-party extensions, there’s always some new way to give Google+ an extra pinch of power. Here are 25 tips and tricks to help make your G+ experience as good as it can be.

Wireless charging from 30 feet away — a game-changer? – Ossia is touting a wireless charging technology called Cota that could eventually charge devices from as far away as 30 feet.

$100 Android tablets with new chip coming, says Intel – Intel is planning a new chip that targets tablets as low as $100. Those products will run Android, the chip giant says.

Improve your research efforts with WikiTube – This Chrome extension adds YouTube videos to Wikipedia pages, two great tastes that taste great together.

Security:

It’s Microsoft Patch Tuesday: September 2013 – Tony Bradley gathers the information you need to make the right deploy decision when applying Microsoft’s September 2013 patches in your organization.

Email spam campaign distributes Android scareware – The latest development is a mass email spam campaign being used to distribute Android scareware—applications that use scare tactics to trick users into paying for worthless services. Researchers from security vendor FireEye identified one such campaign that was launched on Sept. 6 and is still ongoing.

Fingerprint sensor in iPhone 5S is no silver bullet, researchers say – The fingerprint sensor in Apple’s new iPhone 5S has the potential to enhance the security of the device, but the devil will be in the details. Its effectiveness will depend on the strength of the implementation and whether it’s used in conjunction with other security credentials, researchers said.

Size doesn’t matter – at least, not quite as much as smartphone privacy – A new study finds that privacy is more of a concern for smartphone users than screen size, phone brand, weight, or camera resolution. Meanwhile, 80% of users won’t download apps they don’t trust. (Hurray! Let us now nag the other 20%.)

US health care company faces giant class action suit for losing over 4,000,000 unencrypted records – To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: “To lose one patient record may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose 4,000,000 looks like carelessness.” How four stolen computers led to a huge class action lawsuit…

Company News:

Google must stand trial for Wi-Fi data grab, appeals court rules – Wi-Fi data isn’t like radio data, and grabbing it can be like wiretapping.

Netflix inks first pay-TV provider deal with Virgin Media – The company’s streaming service will be integrated into Virgin’s service through TiVo set-top boxes.

Microsoft lures nonprofits with Office 365 freebie – Properly certified nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in 41 countries can apply to the Office 365 for Nonprofits program. Microsoft expects to offer the program in 90 countries by July.

Wal-Mart to Launch Smartphone Trade-in Program – The world’s biggest retailer said Tuesday that consumers will receive a credit from $50 to $300 when they trade in their working, undamaged phone.

Legal battle between Cisco and Multiven flares up with EU antitrust complaint – The feud between Cisco Systems and maintenance service provider Multiven has come to Europe with the filing of a new antitrust compliant over how Cisco provides software updates.

Google partners on new online learning site, platform – Google will team with the online-learning consortium backed by Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and others to build out a new site that can be used to host courses online. Consortium members also include UC Berkeley, University of Western Australia, University of Queensland, and Tsinghua University.

Games and Entertainment:

Reaper: Tale of a Pale Swordsman – The most common problem with mobile games is the difficulty found coping with the interface in order to enjoy the game. Reaper: Tale of a Pale Swordsman has found a fun way around this issue, and in doing so has created an incredibly fun game available on most mobile platforms.

Once-lost Star Wars-related short to screen for the first time in 33 years – How a college script debuted before Empire, went MIA, and revived as Jedi hits 30.

Leaked Grant Theft Auto V map shows off its mind-blowing scale – Thanks to alleged leaked images from a strategy guide for Rockstar’s upcoming Grand Theft Auto V, fans eager to see just how big the game’s map is can revel in its massive scope.

Review: The Wonderful 101 will keep you smiling as you slash and smash – The core of the game is simple, in that you’ve got big bad aliens attacking the planet and it is up to you and your 100 friends to wield superpowers to save the day. The superpowers used are where things get interesting. Your team has access to giant superpowered weapons, from fists to swords, whips and hammers, and even a great big gun that you use to take on the creatures that are much larger than you.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Control these large smart appliances with your iPhone – Looking to justify an iPhone purchase? Here’s a handful of smart kitchen and laundry units with iOS-compatible apps.

Maryland360° app combines the latest mobile technology with Augmented Reality – This app brings you exclusive videos from University of Maryland (UMD). It turns your front camera lens into an AR platform so you can explore fun and engaging content from UMD posters and images. Point your device at an interactive poster to unveil exclusive content, overlaid by stunning animations. The second feature of this app lets you try on the team uniform.

Life found in the sediments of an Antarctic subglacial lake for the first time – Evidence of diverse life forms dating back nearly a hundred thousand years has been found in subglacial lake sediments by a group of British scientists. The possibility that extreme life forms might exist in the cold and dark lakes hidden kilometres beneath the Antarctic ice sheet has fascinated scientists for decades.

Man calls 911 to report cell phone use in movie theater – Blogger during the Toronto International Film Festival is so incensed about cell phone use during a screening that he calls the emergency line. Later, he explains that he thought the cell phoners were pirating the movie.

Apple’s Find My iPhone recovers stolen SUV with child inside – Police were able to zero in on the location by tracking the father’s iPhone, which was still in the car.

An herb garden hanging from the ceiling – The Boskke Sky Planter is a clever way to keep fresh herbs always on hand. The upside-down planter requires little attention to maintain.

Something to think about:

Wisdom is what’s left after we’ve run out of personal opinions.”

–       Cullen Hightower

Today’s Free Downloads:

SoftPerfect Network Scanner 5.5 – SoftPerfect Network Scanner is a free multi-threaded IP, NetBIOS and SNMP scanner with a modern interface and several advanced features. It is intended for both system administrators and general users who are interested in computer security. The program pings computers, scans for listening TCP ports and displays which types of resources are shared on the network (including system and hidden). In addition, it allows you to mount shared folders as network drives, browse them using Windows Explorer, filter the results list and more. SoftPerfect Network Scanner can also check for a user-defined port and report back if one is open. It can also resolve host names and auto-detect your local and external IP range. It supports remote shutdown and Wake-On-LAN.

OSForensics 2.2.1000 – Discover relevant forensic evidence faster. Find files quickly. Search within Files. Search for Emails. Recover Deleted Files. Uncover Recent Activity. Collect System Information. View Active Memory. Extract Logins and Passwords.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA: No one “had a full understanding” of 2009 call-checking program: FISA Court doc release, top intel officials defend policy – The new documents show that in 2009, the NSA checked an “alert list” of nearly 18,000 telephone numbers against daily reports it got of Americans’ phone calls. The numbers on the alert list were supposed to be from suspected terrorists, but most of them didn’t meet the standard of “reasonable articulable suspicion” (RAS). Specifically, a FISC judge wrote in March 2009 that “only 1,935 of the 17,835 identifiers on the alert list were RAS-approved.” The FISC court judge slammed the government for exceeding its mandate and verging on dishonesty, but the government’s lawyers clearly don’t see it that way.

NSA searched phone records in violation of court requirements, documents say – Documents newly declassified under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit reportedly show that the National Security Agency unlawfully searched Americans’ phone records and misrepresented program to court officials.

The Big Lie: Feds aren’t ‘knowingly’ weakening encryption, says U.S. Official – In commenting on the Snowden leaks, Patrick Gallagher, undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology and director of NIST, said that the leaks “would appear to attack our integrity. We are not deliberately, knowingly, working to undermine or weaken encryption technologies,” said Gallagher. But Bruce Schneier, a security expert and author, said he gives little weight to Gallagher’s denial. “What is it about him that makes him different from other government and corporate officials who have been lying about what the NSA does?” said Schneier.

New York Times provides new details about NSA backdoor in crypto spec – Today, the New York Times reported that an algorithm for generating random numbers, which was adopted in 2006 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), contains a backdoor for the NSA.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 10, 2013

Your Facebook conversations are now fodder for news orgs’ Public Feeds – In a move straight from Twitter’s playbook, Facebook is partnering with major news organizations to find and display conversations around keywords. If people or pages with public profiles are talking about specific events, Facebook partners like CNN, Slate, The Today Show, Buzzfeed, and BSkyB will embed those conversations in a Public Feed.

Could privacy fears burst the dot-com bubble? – The currency of the web is its own users’ privacy, and we spend it like water. But the NSA revelations and other privacy concerns could turn the tide.

5 Simple Tips for Dropbox Users – These simple strategies will help you get more out of your file-syncing and storage service.

Juggle two Chrome windows with ease with NiftySplit – This Chrome extension splits the browser into two windows, letting you open links from the left window in the right window. It will change the way you browse Reddit and other sites.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

3 Online Budgeting Tools for Getting Your Finances Under Control – Making and sticking to a budget isn’t always easy. Fortunately, online tools can make this difficult task more manageable.

Top iPhone, iPad apps for teachers – What apps can make your life as a teacher a little easier?

How to cut the Google cord – Even longtime users of Gmail, Google Drive, and Google search will find switching to competing services a painless and ultimately rewarding process.

Six incredibly beautiful Live Wallpapers for your Android – Breathe fresh air into your Android device with one of these stunning live wallpapers. I’ve put together a small collection of my favorite Live Wallpaper apps for Android, some of which are free. The apps mentioned here are uniquely different from each other and represent some of the best available for the platform today.

10 essential Windows RT business apps – Videoconferencing. Note-taking. Expense tracking. Turn your tablet into a productivity tool.

Five apps for better note taking and organization – Incorporate a feature-rich and proper note taking app to help you better organize your thoughts and words.

Google Glass XE9 Update adds Vignettes, YouTube, and more – Google’s monthly update train for Glass is here once again, bringing new tools and features for the wearable computer to the 20,000+ strong Explorer Program users.

Facebook releases new search tools for news organizations – Facebook is set to launch a couple of new search tools aimed at helping these organizations to figure out what Facebook users are talking about. The search tools will undoubtedly be used by marketers as well looking for topics they can target to sell products and services. The tools are focused on helping people gain insight into conversations going on in real time centered on things such as television shows, news topics, and sporting events.

Infographic: The outrageous costs of data center downtime – Did you know that squirrels account for 17% of all Level 3 Communications cable damage? Get more fun facts about data center downtime with this infographic.

Security:

Are colleges spying on their students? – A new survey suggests that most students believe their online activity is monitored by school officials.

Your Twitter account has been hacked! Here’s what to do about it – You have to fix this immediately. When someone else is sending out tweets and DMs under your name, you’re in danger of losing your credibility.

Escaping the dragnet of surveillance: What the experts say about encryption – Just-released documents by the Guardian explain how intelligence agencies collude with technology companies to thwart Internet-based encryption protocols.

People the weakest link in security: Aussie IT professionals – Computer systems can be trusted, processes can be tweaked to eliminate issues, but people will always be the weakest link when it comes to securing any organisation.

India govt reportedly monitors Web activities, without ISP knowledge – Indian government said to have deployed Lawful Intercept and Monitoring systems to track Internet activities of citizens, separate from similar systems used by telcos in the government’s Central Monitoring System project.

Company News:

Google gives more in EU antitrust case to avoid fines – Google has been facing some serious heat in Europe with the European Commission investigating the Internet giant over allegations that it was preventing competition within the market. The investigation was specifically looking into concerns that Google is blocking competitors, such as Microsoft, when it comes to search results returned online. The investigation has been ongoing for the last three years.

Verizon argues it should be able to block websites – Verizon Communications should be able to block its broadband customers from going to websites that refuse to pay the provider to deliver their traffic, a lawyer for Verizon told an appeals court Monday.

Windows execs shuffled as Microsoft pushes phone, PC, and Xbox closer – Microsoft has reportedly shuffled some of its high-level managers and executives within the Windows unit. The reorganization comes as Microsoft works to push its phone, PC, and Xbox closer together. Some the changes are significant with faces familiar to those who follow Microsoft closely no longer in familiar positions.

In reversal, Microsoft gives snarling developers Win 8.1 RTM to chew on – After developers and IT pros pelted Microsoft with complaints, the company has backtracked and decided to grant them access to the latest Windows 8.1 build instead of making them wait until mid-October.

PayPal introduces hands-free payments – In a bid to dominate the physical retail experience, PayPal unveils a Bluetooth communicator that takes in-store payments hands-free.

Games and Entertainment:

NHL 14: Lost an edge – NHL 14 is still a fun, ultra-realistic hockey simulation, but veterans of the series may not find enough innovation and refinement to warrant a purchase at full price.

Metal Gear Solid V’s ‘Quiet’ Problem: How sexy video game characters hurt us – It’s about cool versus sexy. Male characters get to be cool. Female characters have to be sexy. In both cases, they’re designed with a man’s perception in mind.

Roku enhances Android app with Play on Roku video streaming – Roku has just announced that its Roku Android app has just gotten a new talent: streaming videos from phones to TVs via the Play on Roku feature. The update comes just a month after Roku announced the addition of video streaming to its iOS app, promising an Android version for selected devices to come later.

Sony announces thinner, lighter PS Vita with better battery life – It’s 20% thinner, 15% lighter, has a 6 hour battery life and 1GB of memory as standard.

Final Fantasy XIV Deserves a Better PlayStation 3 Interface – It’s not terrible, but some of the choices are head-scratchers.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Catching the stars – Roger Angel is one of the world’s most brilliant and audacious engineers. Could he design the next energy revolution? (recommended by Michael F.)

The 50 essential skills for surviving modern life – Times have changed and old skills such as darning socks have been replaced by new ones such as searching the internet. A KAZ survey has turned up the Top 50 skills people need for modern life, and this is your workforce today…

‘Topiary’ tells all: Prison, activism, and LulzSec’s beginnings – The young hacker, who’s real name is Jake Davis, opens up about his time in the cyberattack collective.

IBM Watson: The inside story of how the Jeopardy-winning supercomputer was born, and what it wants to do next – IBM Watson wowed the tech industry and a corner of U.S. pop culture with its 2011 win against two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions. Here’s how IBM pulled it off and a look at what Watson’s real career…

Say what? Iranian government ministers join Facebook – Although the social network is banned in the Middle Eastern country, it appears the country’s officials can sign up, friend one another, and “like” each other’s posts.

John Sculley spills the beans on firing Steve Jobs – The former Apple CEO, who fired Jobs in 1985, gave his most illuminating explanation ever of the move at a Forbes conference in Bali last week.

Sponsored Content Threatens What You Know – If we as readers continue to let sponsored content persist, the future of informative journalism as we know it is over.

Something to think about:

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.”

–     Bob Thaves

Today’s Free Downloads:

Everything Home for Android 1.0.688 – Love your phone again with Everything Home. With over a million downloads in the first three months, Everything Home changes the way people feel about their phones. Your smartphone can now be as exciting and dynamic as your life, constantly adapting to your needs and interests at any given moment.

Puran Utilities 3.0 – A set of more than 20 software utilities including but not limited to utilities that can help you get the best performance out of your computer. It also provides an automatic and a one click solution to keep your computer clean and error free.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

E.U. politicians seek to suspend data-sharing deal amid new NSA allegations – European politicians on Monday called for the immediate suspension of a data-sharing agreement between the U.S. and the European Union following more revelations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency.

U.S. and U.K. spies crack BlackBerry BES encryption, report says – The U.S. National Security Agency is able to read messages sent via a corporate BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), according to a report by German news magazine Der Spiegel. The purpose of this spying is economic or political, and not to counter terrorism, the magazine hints.

Yahoo and Facebook chase US surveillance freedom as Google demands transparency – Facebook and Yahoo have petitioned the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for permission to reveal how many personal data requests are made by the government, joining Google and Microsoft in taking a stand against secret snooping. The new suits, which join an amended Google transparency petition the search engine filed today, see Facebook and Yahoo voice concerns that they are unable to give any greater detail on what user information is disclosed in the name of national security than the raw overall numbers.

NSA spies reportedly exploited iPhone location bug not fixed until 2011 – File gave detailed account of users’ whereabouts over extended periods of time.

NSA spied on networks of Google and other companies – report – Along with the search giant, Brazil’s state-run oil firm Petrobras was targeted by the NSA, according to documents obtained by Brazilian TV network Globo.

Johns Hopkins reverses decision forcing prof to pull NSA post – After a professor pens a blog post about the NSA’s alleged clandestine program to break digital encryptions, the university asks him to take it down… then changes its mind.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 9, 2013

10 power tips for molding Windows 7 to your will – You can get a lot more mileage out of Windows 7 if you perform a few tweaks and tap in to some timesaving tricks.

Here’s how to best secure your data now that the NSA can crack almost any encryption – Now that we know that corporations—or at least individuals in corporations—have worked with the NSA to build backdoors into encryption technology, privacy buffs should give commercial encryption technology (such as Microsoft’s BitLocker) the hairy eye. You’re better off using tools that employ open-source or public-domain encryption methods, as they need to work with every vendor’s software and, in the case of open-source encryption, can be scrutinized for potential security flaws. With that in mind, here are some tools worth checking out.

Infographic: Password Pop Quiz – We talk a lot about password security, but how much do you actually know about strong passwords?

Create a Windows 8 USB recovery drive – Perform essential recovery and repair tasks on your Windows 8 PC with a USB recovery drive. A bootable Windows 8 recovery drive can help you repair or restore your PC if and when problems arise. Though you can create a recovery DVD, USB flash drives are much more convenient and are fairly inexpensive. Here’s how to create a Windows 8 USB recovery drive for your PC.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Another free office suite for Android: Olive Office – Jack Wallen takes a look at Olive Office Premium, a free office suite application for your mobile Android device.

Google Glass MyGlass app update allows remote control – If you’re the sort of person that’s on the fence about working with Google Glass simply because you don’t want to have to put your finger up to the side of your head to tap around its controls, you’re in luck. This update to the Android app allows you to remotely control the Google Glass user interface straight from your handset or tablet – easy as pie.

Hybrid hijinks: How to install Android on your PC – The intriguing Android-x86 project has ported Google’s open-source OS from the ARM processors common in smartphones and tablets over to the x86 chips found in everyday computers, so you can take Android for a spin on your PC before plunking cash down on one of the latest examples of computing convergence. And even if you have no plans to buy an Android PC, playing with Android on your current PC is just plain fun.

DIY home security with iSmartAlarm – Home security just got a whole lot smarter — and a whole lot more affordable, too.

Security:

Freaking out ScamWare scum – Apparently, the practice of manipulating people with fear into doing things that are not in their best interests is not illegal but the people who perpetrate this stuff are lower forms of life. Check out this video and score one for the human race.

Microsoft readies a tsunami of patches for Windows, IE, Office – For sheer volume of bulletins—14 all together—Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday this month will prove onerous, with one critically important set of patches aimed to fix flaws in all versions of the Internet Explorer browser that can result in remote code execution on victims’ machines.

Encryption still best way to protect data — despite NSA – Properly implemented encryption very hard to beat, even by experts at U.S. spy agency, security experts say.

Yahoo: US wanted data on 40,000 accounts in first half of 2013 – Not surprisingly, the United States leads Yahoo’s list by far. The company reported that during the first half of 2013, American authorities made 12,444 requests of 40,322 accounts. Yahoo handed over content in 37 percent of cases, whereas in 55 percent of the cases, the company handed over only “non-content data” (NCD).

Trust no one, advises security expert after NSA revelations – Some security professionals raise concerns about tech companies potential cooperation with the surveillance agency.

Are password managers safe from the NSA surveillance? – The NSA is decrypting all things. You might have your passwords stored with a password management tool, such as the popular LastPass or 1Password apps. Should you be worried? Yes and no.

Company News:

Verizon’s bid to kill network neutrality law goes to court Monday – In December 2010, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the Open Internet Order, enshrining the concept of “network neutrality”—that Internet Service Providers must treat all data on the Internet equally—into law. ISPs don’t like this, naturally, but Verizon has objected most strenuously of all.

Topping 150M Users, Instagram Promises Ads Within The Next Year – Instagram Director of Business Operations Emily White told the Wall Street Journal that Instagram will begin selling ads within the next year. Are we ready? White comes to Instagram from Facebook, and has been tasked with turning the revenue-free Instagram into a money maker for Facebook, which purchased the photo-sharing app in April of 2012.

Apple reportedly to ship lesser-priced iPhone 5C to China Mobile – Following shortly after iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C advertisements made a brief appearance on China Telecom’s Weibo account, the folks over at The Wall Street Journal have revealed that Apple plans to send iPhone 5C models to China Mobile. Such is the claim of sources who spoke to the media company, with those same individuals confirming the September 10 event launch.

Apple ebook case injunction issued with five-year restrictions and compliance monitoring – The Apple ebook price-fixing legal spat has been a long one, with the Department of Justice and Apple butting heads over various aspects of the case, not the least of which was what Apple called “draconian” suggestions on the DoJ’s part. The Justice Department later agreed to modify some of its penalties, most of which have been included in an injunction filing that was released today.

Games and Entertainment:

Play your own way with these 10 surprising PC game mods – Minecraft in space. Call of Duty meets Star Wars. Grand Theft Auto with no friction. Try these and other fun twists on old games.

PrioVR: A full-body mo-cap suit for gaming – A project currently seeking funding on Kickstarter uses real-time motion capture to put your body’s movements inside a video game.

These Probably Aren’t the Mario Games You’re Looking For (But They’ll Do) – Autumn’s still a few weeks off, but brace for a slew of holiday-focused price drops on games you’ve already played, like Nintendo’s Super Mario Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Wii Sports Resort.

Terraria looks, sounds, and plays just like the original, but the controls are lacking – The popular open-world adventure game originally for PCs and consoles is finally on iOS, but some control issues make it difficult to recommend for all your iOS devices.

Microsoft Works to Save Face After Xbox Backlash – There were no flashy videos, sensational demonstrations or celebrity appearances. Instead, Xbox Live programming director Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb candidly took questions on stage from the crowd for 30 uninterrupted minutes.

Off Topic (Sort of):

California poised to implement first electronic license plates – The idea is that rather than have a static piece of printed metal adorned with stickers to display proper registration, the plate would be a screen that could wirelessly (likely over a mobile data network) receive updates from a central server to display that same information. In an example shown by a South Carolina vendor, messages such as “STOLEN,” “EXPIRED,” or something similar could also be displayed on a license plate.

An App For Kids, By A Kid: Meet The 9-Year-Old Co-Creator Of ‘Super Fun Kid Time’ – The best way to build a great product is to really understand the problem it is trying to solve. The latest awesome example of this is Super Fun Kid Time, an app made for scheduling kids’ playdates that was created at the Disrupt Hackathon by nine-year-old programmer Alexandra Jordan.

Mocking Muslims on Facebook gets Walmart manager fired – A Hamburg, N.Y., Walmart assistant manager likens two Muslim women’s full-cover clothing to a Halloween costume. He is fired, even though he says he didn’t post the comments and picture from work.

Watch Virgin Galactic break the sound barrier at the edge of space – The single perspective in the video was shot from the tail of the craft, which is convenient for seeing the rocket engine do its thing.

The most expensive Pokémon card of all time is on sale for $100,000 – The Pikachu Illustrator card is said to be the most rare card in the Pokémon CCG, only having six total in circulation. One of the six is practically out of circulation, in that it belongs to the Official Pokémon TCG Blog. The card was a reward to those who won the Pokémon Card Game Illustration Contest, which picks out player-submitted illustrations and features them on playable cards.

Something to think about:

In Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.”

–      Neil Postman

Today’s Free Downloads:

EasyBrake 1.0.0.0 – EasyBrake makes conversion videos to MP4 or MKV easier than ever. EasyBrake uses the great engine of HandBrake which is well known and popular.

FrostWire 5.6.4 – FrostWire is a peer-to-peer file sharing program for the Gnutella and BitTorrent protocols. FrostWire is written in Java, and is a fork of LimeWire, another popular Gnutella client. Released under the GNU General Public License, FrostWire is free software.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Let us count the ways: How the feds (legally, technically) get our data – Given that we now know that the National Security Agency (NSA) has the ability to compromise some, if not all of VPN, SSL, and TLS forms of data transmission hardening, it’s worth considering the various vectors of technical and legal data-gathering that high-level adversaries in America and Britain (and likely other countries, at least in the “Five Eyes” group of anglophone allies) are likely using in parallel to go after a given target. So far, the possibilities include……………

Google boosts encryption efforts as NSA snoop saga worsens – Google is accelerating efforts to toughen its data encryption, the company has revealed, aiming to curtail unofficial snooping on user information in the aftermath of NSA PRISM controversy. “It’s an arms race” Eric Grosse, vice president for security engineering at Google, told the Washington Post, describing government-mandated hackers as “the most skilled players in this game” and insisting that as “a point of personal honor” the search giant would not do anything to ease NSA intrusion into its servers.

NSA Can Reportedly Hack Your Smartphone – The National Security Agency can reportedly spy directly on smartphones, according to leaked documents from Germany’s Der Spiegel. Der Spiegel reports that the NSA can “tap most sensitive data held on these smart phones, including contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information about where a user has been.”

Spooks break most Internet crypto, but how? – The short answer is almost certainly by compromising the software or hardware that implements the encryption or by attacking or influencing the people who hold the shared secrets that form one of the linchpins of any secure cryptographic system. The NYT alludes to these techniques as a combination of “supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders, and behind-the-scenes persuasion.”

Long-shot bill forbidding NSA backdoors in encryption has renewed attention – In the wake of revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has broken through many Internet privacy protections, Representative Rush D. Holt (D-NJ) has introduced legislation to prohibit the NSA from building backdoors into encryption mechanisms, according to The New York Times. While Rep. Holt actually introduced the legislation to the House in July under the name “Surveillance State Repeal Act,” recent news may bring this bill more attention.

SARAH Lets You Request Information From 21 Government Agencies At The Same Time – The federal government collects gobs and gobs of data on people, and thanks to a little something called the Freedom of Information Act, people can make requests to liberate some of it. It sounds simple enough, but navigating the labyrinthine process and drafting the request is no easy thing. That’s where SARAH comes in.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 6, 2013

New offline Chrome Apps offer a near-native desktop experience in your browser – This new generation of Chrome Apps is as Web-centric as ever, but with some key improvements: They work offline. They store data locally. They interact more fully with your PC’s hardware. They handle photos and videos with far greater aplomb. In short, they act a lot more like the full-fledged software we’re used to enjoying on the Windows and Mac platforms.

10 Tips to Speed Up Your PC – Got the slow PC blues? There are quite a few things you can do to speed up your Windows machine.

Carry the free winPenPack toolset on your USB drive – Collecting all of these tools on a single USB drive can be a long and arduous project. Thankfully, there are outstanding toolsets available like winPenPack. The open source and free winPenPack comes with a complete set of useful tools for anyone who wants to carry IT applications with them.

Secure your small-business network without spending a dime – What if we told you that there were security controls in the tools you already own that could vastly improve your protection if you just used them? And that you could fill any gaps in protection with free security programs that are every bit as effective as their commercial counterparts? Below are several ways to fend off cyberthreats. The only investment is your time.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft will release a Surface Power Cover that doubles battery life – Microsoft’s Surface Pro is a solid Windows 8 PC, but battery life is its Achilles heel. In a few months, however, Microsoft is going to offer a new accessory that will change things. Microsoft will be adding a secondary battery to the Type Cover and calling the new creation… what else? The Power Cover.

How to: Keep other people off of my PC – Generosity is a virtue, but so is taking precautionary measures. If a visiting friend needs larger-than-mobile Internet access while at your home, you don’t want to deny it. But neither do you want new browser settings, a malware infection, or a formatted hard drive.

30-Second Tech Trick: How to Search Twitter All the Way Back to 2006 – Harken back to the days of iPhones that couldn’t make phone calls, Circuit City, a normal Miley Cyrus and more.

PayPal Android and iOS apps score major update with shop finder and redesign – Though multiple notable features have been added, perhaps the most important among them for users is the inclusion of “Shop,” a tabbed section that details restaurants and stores that accept payments from the online service.

Nitrous.IO’s Packaged Chrome App Turns Chromebooks Into Full-Blown Developer Machines – With the right tools, Google’s Chromebooks make for cheap Linux development machines, but it takes a bit of work to get there. Nitrous.IO, which offers a fully cloud-based development environment for writing Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Go, and Python/Django apps, launched its packaged app for Chrome today.

Sudden spike of Tor users likely caused by one “massive” botnet – Researchers have found a new theory to explain the sudden spike in computers using the Tor anonymity network: a massive botnet that was recently updated to use Tor to communicate with its mothership. Anonymity-preserving service isn’t just for dissidents—criminals love it, too.

3Doodler hands-on: 3D printing for the mass market – Kickstarter success 3Doodler proved there was a market for 3D printing without the geek requirement, but can crafting in the third-dimension really be as easy as wielding a hot nib? True, you won’t be creating any replacement machine parts, but with a $99.99 price tag that’s probably no surprise. We caught up with the $2.3m funding success at ShowStoppers at IFA 2013 to try our hand.

Ricoh Theta camera takes beautifully confusing 360-degree photos – The Theta can shoot everything around you with one click of its shutter button. Everything. How? By capturing spherical images, of course. The results are both jaw-dropping and disorienting.

Security:

Should you let your lover spy on your iPhone messages? – There’s little worse than leaving your iPhone unattended and wondering if your significant other is sniffing around it. There is, apparently, a way to find out. But where do you draw the line between love and privacy?

Patch Tuesday preview: Microsoft to patch dangerous Outlook hack-by-preview bug – Microsoft today said it will ship 14 security updates next week to patch critical vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Windows, Office and SharePoint, its enterprise collaboration platform.

New advanced banking Trojan in the wild – ESET malware researchers have uncovered a new and effective banking Trojan which targets online banking users in Europe and Asia. Hundreds of infections have been detected in Turkey, dozens in the Czech Republic, United Kingdom and Portugal. This very potent and sophisticated banking malware dubbed Hesperbot is spreading via phishing-like emails and also attempts to infect mobile devices running Android, Symbian and Blackberry.

Privacy groups want FTC to oppose Facebook’s policy changes – Six privacy groups have asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to strike down proposed changes to Facebook’s policies, as they violate a 2011 settlement with the agency over user privacy.

Company News:

Google fights to kill email-scanning lawsuit brought by Gmail users – Google lawyers are in court today arguing to dismiss a lawsuit that would stop the company from scanning Gmail users’ email messages for advertising purposes. The lawsuit contends that Google’s automated scanning of emails in the company’s free, cloud-based Gmail service violates the Federal Wiretap Act and the California Invasion of Privacy Act.

Apple testing six-inch iPhone: report – The Wall Street Journal’s Ian Sherr, Eva Dou and Lorraine Luk report today that Apple “has begun evaluating a plan to offer iPhones with screens ranging from 4.8 inches to as high as six inches,” according to unnamed sources. That’s quite different from the 4-inch display on the current iPhone 5 and the 3.5-inch display on iPhone 4 and 4S models still popular on the street. Indeed, six inches would make for one of the largest smartphones on the market.

Microsoft Wins $14M in Motorola Patent Fight – The long-running Motorola-versus-Microsoft patent struggle came to an end this week, when a U.S. District Court jury in Seattle awarded Microsoft $14 million in damages.

Lenovo doubles down on convertible PC bet; Yoga-tizes lineup – Lenovo is making a big bet on convertible PCs and betting that consumers and businesses want one device that can do a bit of everything. Bottom line: Lenovo is taking its approach with its Yoga PC and infusing that DNA throughout its lineup.

Linux Professional Institute puts Linux in the classrooms – Businesses really, really want trained Linux professionals, and the Linux Professional Institute wants to help by providing a new training program for middle-school students on up.

Games and Entertainment:

Qualcomm shows off Vuforia Smart Terrain, makes your living room a game – We’ve seen Vuforia in the past, making magazines and books come to life on our mobile devices, but at Uplinq they revealed Smart Terrain. Which brings your living room landscape right into your mobile game.

Rockstar asks retailers not to ship GTA V until September 16 – The posting limitation is simply to stop anyone receiving the game early, and it seems likely retailers will agree to Rockstar’s request.

Call of Duty goes mobile with Strike Team – Activision’s preternaturally popular console and PC manshoot has made yet another foray to mobile devices, albeit with surprisingly little fanfare. At $6.99, Call of Duty: Strike Team sits on the pricier side of the app spectrum, but manages to serve up an interesting take on a genre that’s growing all too familiar for my tastes.

Bullets and politics fly in ‘RoboCop’ reboot trailer – If you thought Hollywood was through with recycling 1980s entertainment, think again — there’s a new trailer for the reimagined “RoboCop,” and it’s just as violent and explosive as the original.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Claim: People who lie while texting take longer to respond – Ever been trading a flurry of text messages when there’s an awkward pause? Well, new research shows you probably should be suspicious.

Stiff upper lip? The many porn searches of UK politicos, staff – Servers in the UK Parliament’s network have been asked to find pornography 300,000 times since May 2012. Is this why the country’s prime minister wants a porn filter?

The secret society that can’t keep a secret – It seems all significant secrets eventually become public and it’s because people are people. Technology can’t keep secrets only people can keep secrets — and we are not wired to do that. Which is why secrets will always find the light of day no matter how powerful the technologies used to keep them in the dark.

Can this driving video game rejuvenate your brain? – Scientists find that a multitasking driving game called NeuroRacer makes the brains of octogenarians behave decades younger.

Millennials seen as having least analytical acumen – A recent survey says that Millennials are less likely to have strong analytical skills for data management, like their other-aged counterparts. Could this be right?

Something to think about:

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”

–    Albert Einstein

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair – Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including registry errors and file permissions as well as issues with Internet Explorer, Windows Update, Windows Firewall and more. Malware and installed programs can modify your default settings. With Tweaking.com – Windows Repair you can restore many of your Windows settings to their original state. Also, this program also has the MalwareBytes Anti-Malware scanning engine built in to help rid your machine of infection before attempting repairs.

Tweaking.com – Advanced System Tweaker 2.0.0 – Tweaking.com – Advanced System Tweaker is a central hub for any kind of tweak or anything else that can be done via registry files, commands and vbscript files. 100 new tweaks!

Simple System Tweaker Tweaking.com – Tweaking.com – Simple Performance Boost is designed to bring only the safest tweaks to your system to increase speed and stability.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Subverts Most Encryption, Works With Tech Organizations For Back-Door Access, Report Says – Edward Snowden, has revealed new details about the ability of intelligence agencies to crack supposedly secret communications. “The National Security Agency is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents,” reports the New York Times. According to the documents, the NSA “has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption” algorithms and technologies used to keep banking, email, commerce, and data transfers secret.

EU Parliament told to expect more revelations about NSA spying – At the start of an inquiry into American government communications surveillance programs Thursday, European parliamentarians (MEPs) were told to expect further revelations of mass spying by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Prominent hacker and Internet activist Jacob Appelbaum told the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) that more information about government spying, this time involving private home Wi-Fi, is bound to come to the attention of the public.

NSA’s pipe dream: Weakening crypto will only help the “good guys” – Ruining the foundation of online trust? Just collateral damage to spooks. Or, as the Center for Democracy & Technology—no radical group—added in a statement today, “The NSA seems to be operating on the fantastically naïve assumption that any vulnerabilities it builds into core Internet technologies can only be exploited by itself and its global partners. The NSA simply should not be building vulnerabilities into the fundamental tools that we all rely upon to protect our private information.” That neither Obama nor the NSA respect the force of this argument has been one of the more troubling aspects of today’s revelations. And it certainly doesn’t encourage “trust.”

Security expert Schneier calls for more to reveal gov’t spying methods – “The US government has betrayed the Internet,” wrote Schneier. “We need to take it back.” He goes on to call for whistleblowers who will help citizens understand what still isn’t known even after the massive Snowden leaks. We need to know “how exactly the NSA and other agencies are subverting routers, switches, the Internet backbone, encryption technologies, and cloud systems,” writes Schneier. For engineers who don’t have security clearances and haven’t received a National Security Letter, obligations to an employer “don’t cover illegal or unethical activity,” Schneier notes. “If you work with classified data and are truly brave, expose what you know… There’s safety in numbers, and this form of civil disobedience is the moral thing to do.”

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 5, 2013

How to solve the 10 most common tech support problems yourself – Whether you’re dealing with your dad’s decade-old computer or your own custom-built gaming rig, troubleshooting PC problems is a part of everyday life. Before you make that $50 support call, though, try your hand at homebrew tech support. We spoke to some of the best support reps in the business about the most common problems they fix—and how you can do it yourself.

Pew: 86% Of U.S. Adults Make Efforts To Hide Digital Footprints Online; Fear Of Creeping Ads And Hackers Outweighs Spying – If you ask the general U.S. population, as surveyed by the Pew Research Center, the average U.S. citizen appears to be more concerned about the data-collecting abilities of advertising networks like those of Google and Facebook, faceless malicious hackers, and even friends and family, than they are the government.

Microsoft expands its lineup of free Windows and Office evaluation packages – Need a copy of Windows 7, Office 2010, or Windows Server 2008 R2 for internal testing? Microsoft is now offering free evaluation versions of those products in addition to its current editions. Just watch out for the time bomb.

OneLook Dictionary Search – Think of this web site as a search engine for words and phrases: If you have a word for which you’d like a definition or translation, we’ll quickly shuttle you to the web-based dictionaries that define or translate that word. If you don’t know the right word to use, we’ll help you find it. No word is too obscure: More than 5 million words in more than 1000 online dictionaries are indexed by the OneLook search engine. (recommended by Keith P.)

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

‘This tweet will self-destruct…’ (here’s how) – Want to make certain tweets automatically disappear after a set amount of time? Well, now you can. Read on to find out how.

Samsung Galaxy Gear vs Google Glass – Samsung doesn’t have a Google Glass rival, but it does have a new wearable, and the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and there’s no shortage of overlap between the two despite the obvious difference in form factors. We spent some time comparing Glass and Galaxy Gear to see how the two approaches shape up, and to get an early idea of whether we’ll be strapping a wearable to our face, or to our wrist.

Wearable computing: Why there’s no room for watches like Galaxy Gear – The technology and time are right for wearable computers — at least the ones with eyeglasses as the user interface. But smartwatches? No way.

Force YouTube to buffer your entire video – When you play a video, YouTube buffers only a small amount. And that can lead to stuttering, frequently interrupted playback. Thanks to a browser add-on called YouTube Center, it’s now possible to disable DASH, thus forcing YouTube to buffer your entire video.

HDMI 2.0 released with up to 18Gbps bandwidth, 32 audio channels – With up to 18Gbps throughput, HDMI 2.0 can support 3840 x 2160 resolution video at up to 60 frames per second (fps), which is four times the clarity of today’s 1080pm video resolution. The new specification, the first to be developed by the HDMI Forum, also offers up to 32 uncompressed digital audio channels (1.4 supports eight channels), as well as dynamic auto lip-sync and extensions to the Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) connection.

Investigate problems when they occur with Windows 8’s Reliability Monitor – Time your troubleshooting to a specific event when you learn to take advantage of Windows 8’s Reliability Monitor.

How to Build a Website – The tools and services you need to create professional webpages are at your fingerstips. Some are free; others will cost you for real power under the HTML and style sheets.

Bing Improves Its Video Search With High-Res Pop-Out Previews, Improved Filters And Navigation – Microsoft’s Bing today launched a major update to its video search experience that gives the service’s video search results pages a complete overhaul. The update, which Microsoft says was “designed from the ground up,” introduces a new lightbox-style video overlay with a list of related searches on the right and a carousel with related videos on the bottom.

Google+: 25 tips and tricks for power users – The last of JR Raphael’s three-part, how-to series includes advanced tips and tricks to help you take your Google+ experience to the next level.

Facebook hashtags: No help at all – While Twitter hashtags help drive exposure on the social network, new data shows that Facebook hashtags have the opposite effect.

Smartphone shipments to hit 1B — up 40% — in 2013 – Sub-$200 smartphones and robust sales of smartphones in emerging countries are driving a rebound in the worldwide mobile phone market this year, IDC said Wednesday. Smartphone shipments will reach 1 billion in all of 2013 for the first time, up 40% over 2012. Overall mobile phone shipments should reach 1.8 billion in 2013, IDC said.

Security:

Australia – Coalition confirms: Internet filtering by default – The Australia Coalition’s proposed opt-out internet filter will be for everyone, regardless of whether they have children, Liberal MP Paul Fletcher has told ZDNet. As first reported by ZDNet, buried in a new policy document released today, the Coalition announced that if it wins the federal election on Saturday, it would follow the UK in implementing opt-out internet filtering of all adult content for all Australians.

Negligence by security camera vendor harms customer privacy – TRENDnet’s lax security practices allowed hackers to post links on the Web to live camera feeds, exposing the private lives of the affected customers, including minors, the FTC said Wednesday.

Leaked GTA V Torrents Loaded With Sneaky, Costly Malware – If you’re downloading one of the “leaked” Grand Theft Auto V torrents, then you might be getting a lot more than you planned.

1-in-5 tweets divulge user location – A new study from USC researchers sampled more than 15 million tweets, showing that some Twitter users may be inadvertently revealing their location through updates on the social media channel. The study, which appears in the current issue of the International Journal of Geoinformatics, provides important factual data for a growing national conversation about online privacy and third-party commercial or government use of geo-tagged information.

“World’s most secure smartphone” looks like snake oil, experts say – Encrypted phone concept a good one, but secrecy and FUD inspire skepticism.

Company News:

Secunia launches the next generation of Complete Patch Management: The Secunia CSI 7.0 – Secunia, a leading provider of IT security solutions that enable businesses and private individuals to manage and control vulnerability threats, today announced the release of the new version of the company’s flagship solution: the Secunia Corporate Software Inspector, version 7.0, which introduces new features and improvements for vulnerability and patch management to organizations worldwide.

Amazon hiring ‘top secret’ IT staff as it fights for CIA work – Amazon has more than 100 job openings for people who can get a top secret clearance, which includes a U.S. government administered polygraph examination. It needs software developers, operations managers and cloud support engineers, among others.

Adobe Launches $9.99/Month Photography Program With Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, Behance And 20GB Of Online Storage – Adobe today announced its Photography Program, which for $9.99 per month offers photographers who own a previous copy of Photoshop (starting with CS3) access to a “lite” version of Creative Cloud with Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5, as well as a Behance membership with access to Adobe ProSite and 20GB of online storage.

Panasonic to pull out of consumer smartphones – The Japanese electronics firm plans to cut its losses and will instead focus more on developing smartphones for business use in line with its popular “Toughbook” notebook PC series.

Microsoft wins $14.5 million in damages in licensing squabble with Motorola – The case seems to be going Microsoft’s way as a federal jury in Seattle ordered Motorola to pay Microsoft $14.5 million in damages for breach of contract. This is the latest development in an on-going spat between the two companies involving the licensing of patents owned by Motorola and used by Microsoft in a number of its products.

Facebook faces criticism over its privacy policy – On the heels of a lawsuit settlement over user privacy, several advocacy groups complain to the FTC that the social network uses people’s data for advertising without explicit consent.

BlackBerry chasing November sale insiders claim – BlackBerry is hunting a fast sale for its troubled business, targeting a deal before the end of November this year, sources close to the negotiations claim, with a shortlist already put together of possible suitors.

Games and Entertainment:

The Human Body for iPhone and iPad Teaches Kids Anatomy with Clever Animations – This app contains beautifully rendered animations and graphics depicting all the major body systems. The app, aimed at kids aged four and older, hits all the biological basics and presents things in a very compelling, visual way. The Human Body is $2.99 in the App Store, but it’s a hefty 343MB download. Make sure you’ve got some space.

Totem Runner Brings Transformative Powers to Google Play – The side-scrolling platformer is not a new game category by any means. It takes something truly interesting to stand out within this genre, but Totem Runner for Android has what it takes. It successfully combines a simple controls with a challenging style of play. Best of all, you can try it free.

Xbox One launches in 13 countries on November 22 – The Xbox One will hit store shelves on November 22, according to a blog post by Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb. This is just one week after the PlayStation 4’s November 15 launch date in North America, but one week before the November 29 launch date in Europe, making a nice, international next-gen console sandwich.

Divekick Review: Spaceballs for the fighting game community – Divekick, the debut from Iron Galaxy Studios, is Spaceballs. It’s Airplane. It’s Shaun of the Dead. What I mean is sure, it’s a parody of fighting games, but the level of detail and in-jokes contained makes it clear this is more tribute than mockery. It’s one of the best fighting games I’m likely to play in my lifetime.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Robot Turtles Is A Board Game Designed By A Googler To Teach Kids Core Coding Principles – There are plenty of online resources aimed at teaching kids coding but here’s an offline take that uses old school gamification to get kids engaged and learning programming principles while they’re having some good old-fashioned family fun (as board game makers used to put it, in the 1980s). Robot Turtles is a board game designed by entrepreneur and CEO of Google Comparison Dan Shapiro — currently on leave from the day job so he can work on cool projects like this.

Patenting everyday life: “Business method” lawsuits are growing fast – Some of the patents that have generated the most outrage in recent years are patents that make claims about everyday business practices: using online shopping carts, scanning documents to e-mail, tracking a vehicle, or using online ads to pay for content.

Thomas More Law Center – Renowned as a national nonprofit public interest law firm, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Thomas More Law Center’s mission is to restore and defend America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, and to preserve a strong national defense, and a free and sovereign United States of America. In courtrooms throughout our Nation, Law Center lawyers fight for the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, the sanctity of human life, and a strong national defense.

Introducing a flu vaccine you give yourself – Scientists develop an influenza vaccine delivered by a microneedle patch that patients could easily and painlessly self-administer.

NASA study eyes soot’s role in 1800s glacier retreat – A NASA-led team of scientists has uncovered strong evidence that soot from a rapidly industrializing Europe caused the abrupt retreat of mountain glaciers in the European Alps that began in the 1860s, a period often thought of as the end of the Little Ice Age.

Something to think about:

I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”

–      Henry Ford

Today’s Free Downloads:

WinPatrol – WinPatrol takes snapshot of your critical system resources and alerts you to changes that occur without your knowledge.

7+ Taskbar Tweaker 4.2.7 – This programs enables you to tweak your Windows 7 taskbar. A tool that allows you to: Reorder items within a tab group. Group/ungroup/show label/hide label per Application ID. Close/minimize/etc. multiple windows at once. Change Application ID of windows (that is, grouping whatever windows you want).

EverNote 5.0.0.1137 – Easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Patriot Act author says NSA’s bulk data collection is “unbounded in its scope” – Veteran Republican Congressman argues that government’s rationale is absurd.

NRA joins ACLU in suit against NSA’s surveillance program – Looking to protect gun owners’ privacy, the NRA files a brief supporting the ACLU’s lawsuit aimed at halting the NSA’s spying program.

UN: press should not be ‘intimidated into silence’ over state secrets – Representatives criticise UK government following detention of David Miranda, and call for public debate over NSA surveillance.

Julian Assange claims his encrypted laptops were stolen in 2010 while traveling – WikiLeaks founder files criminal complaints in Germany and Sweden—with more coming. In a press release published on the WikiLeaks website on Monday, the organization wrote that it would be filing “four criminal complaints to be filed in different jurisdictions by WikiLeaks during the month of September.”

Barack Obama raises possibility of new legislation to curb NSA powers – President defends NSA but acknowledges ‘legitimate questions’ about the agency’s role, especially with advance of technology.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – September 4, 2013

How safe are online password managers? – People who use online password managers have a lot riding on the application’s integrity. What are the chances of others gaining access to the stored passwords?

How to fix your PC’s worst annoyances – Windows oozes with all sorts of hackle-raising “features” that interfere with just plain using your PC. But don’t chuck your monitor across the room! By the time you’re done reading this article, your headaches should be gone. You can click most of the images in this article to enlarge them. Got it? Good. Let’s get cracking!

Four simple ways to make your tablet run smoothly – Here are four simple fixes that will get your tablet up and running at optimum speed again in no time.

6 mistakes to avoid when setting up your small business wireless network – A fast, reliable wireless network is essential. But building one isn’t as simple as plugging in your ISP-supplied router and connecting your smartphone. In fact if you’ve never done it before, putting together a Wi-Fi network robust enough to support your business can be pretty tricky. To shorten the learning curve, we’ve highlighted some common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Like It or Not, Facebook Now Wants to Use You in Ads – Facebook proposed a change to its Data Use Policy (PDF) yesterday that scrubs a sentence saying you can “use your privacy settings to limit how your name and profile picture may be associated with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us.” It has now been replaced by a sentence that says, well … precisely the opposite.

Very tiny $45 computer, CuBox-i, runs Android and Linux – In the tiny, cheap computing space, the Raspberry Pi is king thanks to the $25 and $35 price tags and marketable name. Once you get into the RasPi, though, you inevitably fall down a deep, dark rabbit hole of other tiny, cheap computers. Formidable opponents to the Pi throne come from SolidRun, and this time around, it’s a $45 cube computer that runs Android and Linux.

World’s thinnest wireless keyboard also acts as a large flexible touch surface – It’s actually a flexible, wireless touch surface that is just 0.5mm thick. That allows it to easily slip inside a tablet or smartphone case, and because it is wireless it offers up a very convenient way to type on a surface that doesn’t cover any of your tablet or smartphone’s display.

How to control your PC from your iPad for free – You don’t have to spend $80 annually for an app like Parallels Access. Free alternatives get the job done just fine.

Fact sheet: Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander) – October 2013 will see the release of the next iteration of the Ubuntu Linux operating system. There are plenty of features coming down the pipeline, some of which have caused great controversy with the Linux world. Even with the surrounding controversy, Ubuntu Linux continues to be one of the most popular Linux desktops available.

Login and password troubles revealed – Increasingly lengthy and complex log-in processes and web forms are driving consumers away from websites, according to Ping Identity. This is hardly surprising as nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents had log-ins for up to five websites, while an equal number juggled six to ten websites and almost a third (30%) face the logistical feat of remembering log-ins for between 11 and 20 websites. As a result of this ‘password amnesia’, nearly 50% of consumers have had to re-set a password, with over a fifth (21%) having to do so on a regular basis. The online frustration doesn’t stop with passwords though.

Futuristic bracelet uses heartbeats as a password—but is it secure? – The Nymi is a small bracelet equipped with a sensor that reads the electrocardiogram (ECG) of the person wearing it. Once it has verified that the heart signature belongs to the person who registered it, it provides a means of authentication that can in theory be used to access a virtually endless supply of electronic devices, including airport kiosks, hotel room doors, and sensitive computer networks.

Breaking down an IPv6 address: What it all means – Nick Hardiman explains the seemingly arcane engineering of the IPv6 address. Find out what makes it tick.

Sony Hopes You’ll Carry A Lens In Your Pocket – The Sony QX10 and QX100 are leaking from all corners of the Internet following their surprise appearance last month. The products are essentially two-thirds of a camera designed to connect to a smartphone wirelessly or through a dock. Sony has created a whole new system that replaces a phone’s camera with a new sensor and glass. For better or worse, of course.

Topsy indexes entire tweet history for search, analysis – By ingesting all of Twitter, Topsy becomes a top destination for deep dives into social data.

Security:

Cisco Warns Users of Four Vulnerabilities – Cisco issued advisories warning users of vulnerabilities in the company’s Adaptive Security Appliance, IOS XR software, unified computing system and wireless LAN controllers.

Database of illegal downloaders – are British ISPs to become the “music NSA”? – The major UK broadband providers are being asked to create a database of customers who illegally download films, music and other protected content from the internet.

NetTraveler Variant Adds Java Exploits, Watering Hole Attacks to Bag of Tricks – A new version of NetTraveler has been spotted, this one using Java exploits and a watering hole attack to spy on and steal from diplomats, manufacturers, scientists and military contractors.

Inside the Response to the New York Times Attack – As troublesome as the attack was, it easily could have been far worse. Had the attackers modified the time-to-live, or expiration time, of the DNS cache in the records of the Times and the other targets, the effects would have lasted much longer.

Hand of Thief Trojan Not Ready For Primetime – Upon further examination, a new banking Trojan called Hand of Thief that targets Linux, may not be as commercially viable as it was thought to be.

Cyberextortion by US gov, or simple P2P security lapse by medical firm? – Company X leaks data. Company Y finds data. Y shills for security work. X refuses. Y tells the FTC. FTC asks X to explain. X says Y is unobjective. FTC asks X to explain, no ifs and buts. X writes a book about it.

Company News:

Amazon Launches A Home Automation Store Featuring Smart Locks, Sensors, Thermostats & More – Amid a bevy of Amazon-related announcements surrounding Kindle – some intentional (the arrival of Kindle MatchBook), some not (news of an updated Kindle Paperwhite leaked a bit early) – Amazon has also quietly launched a new storefront focused on Home Automation products, including things like programmable thermostats, smart locks, sensors, video monitors, and more.

LinkedIn To Raise Up To $1.15B To Fuel Acquisitions, “Infrastructure” Investments – LinkedIn has filed to raise more than $1 billion by selling stock in its company to both the public, and banks that will underwrite the issuance.

Android reaches 1 billion device activations milestone – Android’s Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai has tossed out a couple of announcements about Google’s mobile operating system today, first bringing quite a bit of surprise with the revelation that Android 4.4 will be named Android KitKat after the same-name candy bar. He also revealed that Android has reached a new milestone, with over 1 billion activations to date.

Chinese Internet Giant Baidu Enters The Smart TV Wars With Launch Of TV+ – Baidu, the Internet giant that operates China’s largest search engine, has launched its own smart TV to compete with rival platforms from Alibaba, as well as other companies including Xiaomi, Samsung and Apple.

Google plans to launch app store for Google Glass next year – Web giant confirms that users and developers of the high-tech specs will get an app store but declines to give additional information.

Games and Entertainment:

Sony reportedly working on 3D virtual reality headset for the PS4 – Sony’s VR headset will work in a similar fashion to the Oculus Rift. There will be two screens inside to give the user the correct view for each eye that combines to produce the 3D effect. Sources claim the device has been integrated with Evolution Studios’ upcoming PS4 racer DriveClub. The integration goes so deeply that players can look around in the interior of the car by turning their heads.

Microsoft Xbox One to get a CPU boost in retail units – As we get nearer to a still unknown November release date, details about Microsoft’s next generation console are slowly coming out, enticing gamers to prepare themselves, and their wallets, for the official launch. The news this time is quite positive, with the Xbox One said to be sporting a faster CPU speed than previously seen.

Total War: Rome II review: A total mess – Like Rome itself, the Total War series could have been an empire that lasted for decades. Rome II should have been its crowning achievement. So why is it such a failure? The reasons are big, messy, and complicated, but to sum it up: Rome II takes everything that the Total War series does well and gets it just wrong enough to remove all the tension.

Microsoft Xbox One and Surface NFL partnership bears fruit, features detailed – Football season is here and Microsoft wants to be a big part of it, redefining the way sports fans experience the game. When Microsoft unveiled its next-gen gaming console, it also announced a partnership with NFL to bring a new football experience in your living room. Now we’re getting more information about new features that will be hitting not only the Xbox One but the Surface tablet as well.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Cars and computers: A look at the future of autos – The computerization of cars has already begun, but the technology will take off dramatically now with the mobile Internet and self-driving vehicles. Here’s a look at technology that’s changing the auto industry.

First, smart cars. Next, smart transport grids – A new world beckons in which urban transit networks will be able to warn about road conditions or adjust road speeds to relieve traffic congestion.

Woman claims e-cigarette blew up, shot 4-foot flames – An Atlanta woman plugs an electronic cigarette into her computer’s USB port. Next, in her own words: “Kaboom!”

Chinese firm hitches ride on drones to deliver packages – Shenzhen-based courier company, SF Express, begins trials in Guangdong using drones each outfitted with eight propellers and able to fly up to 100 meters to deliver packages.

Homeless in Silicon Valley: Hardship in America’s innovation heartland – Silicon Valley has a serious homeless problem, despite the fact that the Valley is home to some of the richest zip codes in the United States.

Parliamentary attempts to access porn revealed – Nearly 300,000 “attempts to access websites categorised as pornography” were made from computers within parliament in the past year, official records show. The figure, which averages more than 800 per day, was released by IT chiefs at the Palace of Westminster in response to a freedom of information request.

Lego finally releases a female-scientist minifig – A new minifig blazes a new trail for females in Legoland by being the first woman figure with “scientist” as a career.

Something to think about:

Luck is what you have left over after you give 100 percent.”

–     Langston Coleman

Today’s Free Downloads:

PaperScan Free 2.0.0 – PaperScan is a powerful scanning software with an OCR engine centered on one idea : making document acquisition an unparalleled easy task for anyone.

Mozilla Firefox for Android – The Mozilla Firefox Web browser brings the best of desktop browsing to mobile. It’s fast, easy to use and customizable, with the latest security and privacy features to help you stay safe online.

AntiToolbar 1.0.4 Beta – AntiToolbar finds and displays a list of toolbars, homepage, and search settings on your browsers and then lets you choose the ones you want to remove.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

French foreign ministry tapped by NSA, says German magazine – A report published on the website of the German news magazine the Spiegel says the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) tapped into computers used by French diplomats to communicate with each other and the foreign ministry in Paris (pictured above) through virtual private networks (VPN). VPN internet connections are generally considered to offer a high level of security.

The NSA Wants To Ban Sales Of This T-Shirt On Zazzle – File under, “Your tax dollars at work”: The NSA sent a cease-and-desist letter to Zazzle , the T-shirt site, asking it to remove a series of NSA parody T-shirts. The shirts featured the NSA’s eagle logo and the motto, “The only part of the government that actually listens.”

The Real Threat To Our Way Of Life – “Terrorism and national security are wholly distinct concepts. Terrorism involves a violent incident. It merely kills people and wrecks buildings. It acquires power only by generating an exaggerated response, and is countered by good policing and not overreacting. Not even IRA terror, more systematic than anything spawned by al-Qaida, threatened national security – that is, the integrity of the British state or its institutions”

Bruce Schneier: Our Newfound Fear Of Risk – “We tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange, and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar, and common ones. This leads us to believe that violence against police, school shootings, and terrorist attacks are more common and more deadly than they actually are — and that the costs, dangers, and risks of a militarized police, a school system without flexibility, and a surveillance state without privacy are less than they really are”

Al-Qaeda operatives applied for NSA jobs, say new Snowden files – The CIA found that among a subset of job seekers whose backgrounds raised questions, roughly one out of every five had “significant terrorist and/or hostile intelligence connections,” according to the document, which was provided to The Washington Post by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

If you think the NSA is bad, try the Putin-controlled Chrome toolbar – I am not making this up. You can’t make this stuff up. This is what the world is coming to.

National Security Agency (Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future) – Press Statement on 30 August 2013 – Correcting The Record On “Possible Insider Threats” Recent reporting stated that “NSA planned to investigate at least 4,000 possible insider threats in 2013, cases in which the agency suspected sensitive information may have been compromised by one of its own.” That’s not accurate.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News