Monthly Archives: October 2013

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 31, 2013

Five free apps for encrypting email;   How to hide Twitter preview images;  What tech frightens us most;  Home Wi-Fi routing done right;  America’s Mood Map: An Interactive Guide;  13 flicks for your All Hallows horror binge;  The 10 Best PlayStation 3 Games;  Target – buy 2 get 1 free PS4 games;  NSA – cite 9/11 to justify spying program.

Journalist Invited Hackers To Hack Him. Learn From The Mistakes – Adam Penenberg of PandoDaily decided to find out how easy it would be to hack him by inviting professional penetration testers — who usually take aim at banks, hospitals, and companies — to take their best shot at breaking into his life. You might be reassured by reading the long piece. The hacking, while eventually successful, was actually pretty difficult.

Facebook may start logging your cursor movements – Facebook is considering collecting yet more data from users in the form of tracked mouse movements, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. Your scrolls, your hovers, your highlights, your right clicks: Facebook wants them all.

Microsoft won’t turn on Windows Defender for unprotected PCs – A Microsoft executive misspoke when she said that Windows would turn on the built-in Windows Defender technology for users who had let their antimalware subscriptions lapse.

What tech frightens us most – In their latest October 2013 survey released just in time for All Hallows’ Eve, IT recruiting firm Modis surveyed 1000 Americans to find out what potential tech disasters are keeping them up at night.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Twitter’s New Photo Previews Prompt Outrage – For some, photos directly in the news stream is basically a crime against humanity.

How to hide Twitter preview images with AdBlock – Twitter surprised users by forcing an update that automatically shows photos and videos in timelines, and for some users this is a serious problem. Here’s how to hide those images with AdBlock.

Five free apps for encrypting email – Whether you are using an email client or a web-based email solution, you can encrypt your email. I have searched for some of the easier (and free) means to successfully get those outgoing emails wrapped in a warm blanket of secrecy. With the exception of one, these tools serve a singular purpose – to encrypt email messages.

Has Microsoft just PROVED why you should upgrade from XP? – Microsoft just published its January-to-June 2013 Security Intelligence Report. The results seem to PROVE that you should get rid of Windows XP as soon as you can. Paul Ducklin checks the strength of the “proof”.

Skydog hands on: Home Wi-Fi routing done right – The best home networking solution for parental control of technology is also the best home Wi-Fi router, period. Skydog does well what other Wi-Fi routers usually do poorly.

Facebook Algorithm Predicts if Your Relationship Is Doomed – We’ve all had those moments of Facebook-induced desperation — skulking around an ex’s profile to see if they’ve ended their rebound relationship, or are gleefully posing with their new sweetheart in Cabo. But it appears the social network knows more about your love life than just who you’re stalking.

How I switched from Gmail to (and how you can too) – So long, Gmail, it was nice knowing you. After nearly a decade, I’ve finally moved my personal email away from Google’s service. If you’re considering doing the same, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you set things up the right way.

6 Surprising Ghost-Hunting Gadgets – We investigate the technology paranormal detectives use to find ghosts, most of which are repurposed gadgets with day jobs.

Kill hours dead with 8 horribly adorable, totally free Halloween games – In honor of the most haunted holiday, I’ve been spending the witching hour playing some of the best Halloween-themed mobile games out there, and while they’re more adorable than horrible, they’re also a lot of fun.

Now screaming: 13 flicks for your All Hallows horror binge – We’ve cut through the stupid to find the gold. Here we present the best scary movies available for streaming this Halloween! They’ll help your brain stay in Halloween mode until Thanksgiving season finally rolls around and spoils all the fun!

Move past being too scared to share – Some people fear online document collaboration. Here’s how to help people move past their fear of using shared Google documents.

Some Windows 8.1 updates tripping over driver problems – Users say they’re getting an error message when they try to update to Windows 8.1; Microsoft says it’s looking into the matter.

Pissed-off Dell laptop owners seek answer to cat-pee odors – Months of complaints about the smell of cat pee emanating from new Dell 6430u laptops cap off with an official response to the stinky problem.


New Injection Campaign Peddling Rogue Software Downloads – A mass injection campaign has surfaced over the last two weeks that’s already compromised at least 40,000 web pages worldwide and is tricking victims into downloading rogue, unwanted software to their computer. The campaign, dubbed GWload by researchers at Websense, relies on a Cost Per Action scam that convinces users into thinking the page they’ve navigated to has been locked and that they need a special version of VLC Player to open it.

Save your Internet bacon with two-factor authentication – Why log in once when you can log in twice? Two-factor authentication can give you some added protection, and it’s fairly easy to set up.

Adobe breach THIRTEEN times worse than thought, 38 million users affected – Adobe originally estimated that the breach affected around 2.9 million users. As it turns out the number is actually 38 million, with the information taken including Adobe IDs, encrypted passwords, customer names, encrypted debit and credit card numbers, expiry dates and customer order details.

Mozilla patches *several critical Firefox security holes – Mozilla released *10 patches for three versions of its Firefox browser on Tuesday, five of which are considered critical and could be used to remotely install malicious code.

2 years in federal prison for trash-searching student aid fraudster – A Florida man will go to prison for defrauding student aid accounts, while his two fellow-conspirators have been given probation and community sentences. The group’s techniques should serve as a reminder that it’s not just the information stored on our computers that we need to keep secure.

Google, the NSA, and the need for locking down datacenter traffic – With the NSA seemingly listening in the need for datacenter to datacenter encryption has never been greater.

Company News:

Facebook Admits Some Decrease Of Usage Amongst Young Teens For The First Time – Facebook may be feeling the pinch from teen-focused, mobile-first social networks like Snapchat, as CFO David Ebersman said on today’s earnings call that Facebook “did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens,” though he prefaced that saying “usage of Facebook among US teens overall was stable from Q2 to Q3.” This is the first time Facebook has reported real trouble with teens.

Infosys ran ‘unlawful’ visa scheme, U.S. alleges in settlement – The U.S. alleges that offshore outsourcing giant Infosys violated visa laws to increase its profits, reduce visa expenses and avoid tax liabilities, in a settlement announced today.

Twitter facing $124 million lawsuit alleging fraud – In a private stock sale gone awry, the social network is accused of misleading two firms to boost its value prior to going public.

Facebook Q3 by the numbers: 874M monthly mobile users – The social network’s mobile user numbers are up 45 percent in the third quarter, and it shows in the company’s mobile advertising dollars.

Games and Entertainment:

The 10 Best PlayStation 3 Games – The PlayStation 3 launched to a collective gamer response of “meh,” but Sony’s third home video game console is one gamers should have in their living rooms. Here are 10 reasons why.

Titanfall will never hit the PlayStation 4, but Titanfall 2 may – Titanfall has created a huge buzz in the gaming industry and is said to be one of the most impressive video games in years. The game has been announced as coming to the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC gamers. We knew the title was an Xbox exclusive video game, but new information has surfaced about just how exclusive the game is.

EA, Tiger Woods End Gaming Partnership – Since 1998, golf superstar Tiger Woods has been the face of Electronic Arts’s PGA Tour video game series. However, this year’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 will be the last title to feature Woods as he and EA have ended their partnership.

10 years after Steam’s official launch it now has over 65 million accounts – Today, just over 10 years after the launch of the first public version of Steam, Valve has announced, via an email press release, that the service now has over 3,000 games in its library and over 65 million accounts, which Valve says is 30 percent higher than a year ago. Microsoft’s own Xbox Live service has 48 million members, according to the Xbox website.

Classic Double Dragon Games Coming to iOS and Android Later This Year – Originally an arcade machine, Double Dragon became incredibly popular and was ported to a variety of home game consoles including the NES, Sega Genesis, and GameBoy. Two sequels followed the original, all of which used the same side-scrolling action format. Now all three games will be coming to iOS and Android devices later this year courtesy of DotEmu.

Target set to offer buy 2 get 1 free on PS4 launch games – You can select any three PS4 launch games and you’ll only pay for two of them. As all the games look set to be $59.99, you’ll only pay $119.98 instead of $179.97. The deal does not insist you purchase a PS4 as well, but if you do, that’s a PS4 and 3 games for $519.97. The only restriction on the games deal is that it’s limited to one set of three games per customer.

Off Topic (Sort of):

America’s Mood Map: An Interactive Guide to the United States of Attitude – West Virginia is the most neurotic state, Utah is the most agreeable and the folks of Wisconsin are the country’s most extroverted, a new study says. Take TIME’s test to find out which state most suits you.

Here are all of Google’s Halloween Easter eggs – Google’s engineers have added a little Halloween mischief into the search graph.

10 spooky items from America’s past – American history, from war to politics, is filled with frightening moments. As Halloween approaches, the National Museum of American History is digging into the archives and unearthing a few of its favorite creepy finds from a collection of more than 3 million museum artifacts.

Woman gets ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving – The ticket, handed out by a California cop, faults the woman for “Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass).”

Man tries to rip chained iPad from pizza joint counter, fails – In a video that is as educational as it is amusing, a man cases an Illinois pizza joint, smashes the glass, but the iPad simply won’t budge.

8 cool heat maps that can help you visualize big data – Big or small, data can be difficult to visualize. These examples use heat maps to put massive data sets into a context that’s easy to understand.

Something to think about:

Assuming that critical thinking is reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do, a critical thinker:

1. Is open-minded and mindful of alternatives

2. Tries to be well-informed

3. Judges well the credibility of sources

4. Identifies conclusions, reasons, and assumptions

5. Judges well the quality of an argument, including the acceptability of its reasons, assumptions, and evidence

6. Can well develop and defend a reasonable position

7. Asks appropriate clarifying questions

8. Formulates plausible hypotheses; plans experiments well

9. Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context

10. Draws conclusions when warranted, but with caution

11. Integrates all items in this list when deciding what to believe or do

Robert H. Ennis

Today’s Free Downloads:

PaperScan Free – Powerful scanning software with an OCR engine centered on making document acquisition an unparalleled easy task for anyone.

Process Hacker Portable 2.32 – Process Hacker is an application which helps users to view and manage the processes and their threads, modules and memory from their computers.

Greenshot 1.1.6 – Quickly create screenshots of a selected region, window or full screen; you can even capture complete (scrolling) web pages from Internet Explorer. Easily annotate, highlight or obfuscate parts of the screenshot. Export the screenshot in various ways: save to file, send to printer, copy to clipboard, attach to e-mail, send Office programs or upload to photo sites like Flickr or Picasa, and others.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New docs show NSA taps Google, Yahoo data center links – US intelligence access to the mounds of data held by Google and Yahoo goes far beyond the court-approved PRISM program, which was described in some of the first National Security Agency (NSA) leaks to come out this summer. Top secret documents published today by The Washington Post reveal that the NSA has tapped into overseas links that Google and Yahoo use to communicate between their data centers.

Six steps Silicon Valley can take to protect users from NSA spying – The EFF’s Kurt Opsahl lays out measures Internet companies can implement to protect their users’ privacy from government surveillance.

Silent Circle and Lavabit launch “DarkMail Alliance” to thwart e-mail spying – At Wednesday’s Inbox Love conference held at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus, the founders of Lavabit and Silent Circle announced that they want to change the world of e-mail completely by putting privacy and security at its core.

AT&T hit with European backlash due to NSA activities – The NSA has received a lot of backlash for its various spying activities, but it isn’t the only entity that is paying for its activities. AT&T, which has long been interested in buying a wireless company in Europe, has received substantial resistance, with it being made known that any purchase that takes place will “face intense scrutiny.”

NSA said to intentionally cite 9/11 to justify spying program – Newly released government documents spell out how officials should answer questions about the NSA’s mass surveillance program; examples include “defend the nation” and prevent “another 9/11.”

NSA says nope to spying on pope – The agency says in a statement that a report in an Italian magazine that it “has targeted” the Vatican is false.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 30, 2013

Advanced SystemCare 7 Free;  1 in 4 Young Adults Hacked;  10 must-have business apps for Android tablets;  The case against Gmail;  Trick your friends – Halloween PC pranks;  PayPal two-factor authentication;  Playtime Ideas to Keep Toddlers Busy;  BitTorrent isoHunt is back;  U.K. ISPs block 21 pirate sites;  WayBack Machine for software; Top-Rated Media Boxes.

1 in 4 Young Adults Experience Hacked Accounts – New research by Marble Security indicates that more than 1 in 4 U.S. young adults born between 1980-2000 have had online accounts hacked. The national average — regardless of age — is closer to 1 in 5 at 21%. The survey results contradict the assumption that Millennials are more tech-savvy and less likely to fall victim to tactics used by hackers, such as social engineering or phishing tactics. Not true. 26% of respondents ages 25-34 reported hacked online accounts.

10 must-have business apps for Android tablets – As a platform, Android has been business-ready for quite some time. However, it’s often difficult to find the right app to do the job. Considering how many apps are available in the Google Play Store, digging out the business-gems can be a long, involved process. With that in mind, I’ve developed a list of what I believe to be the must-have business-centric apps for your Android device.

Keep your PayPal account safer with two-factor authentication – If you use PayPal and don’t take your account security seriously, you are asking for all sorts of trouble, what with all the financial information your account holds. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection between your account and would-be data thieves by requiring you to enter a single-use security code—typically sent to your phone via text message—in addition to your username and password when you log in.

Free Knoala App Offers Crowdsourced Playtime Ideas to Keep Toddlers Busy – Designed for parents of kids aged 0 to 5, the iPhone app is a giant repository of fun, quick activities to boost critical skills in developing minds. Stuck in the grocery store checkout line? Knoala lets you turn that downtime into learning time with its video section. There, you’ll find age-appropriate YouTube clips from Sesame Street, the Muppets and more. Need a new tall tale for bedtime, instead? Knoala also has a Story Starter section that provides you with an idea for a fun absurd story.

Ed Bott’s case against Gmail – Gmail was a breath of fresh air when it debuted. But this onetime alternative is showing signs that it’s past its prime, especially if you want to use the service with a third-party client. That’s the way Google wants it, which is why I’ve given up on Gmail after almost a decade.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Flyne is a Slick New Feed Reader and News Aggregator for Android – There is yet another way to read your feeds and social links on Android, and it comes from a noted developer. Flyne is an offline reader that syncs the full text of articles from multiple sources like Feedly and Twitter. This is the newest project from Falcon Pro developer Joaquim Verges, and it looks to be off to a very good start.

Trick your friends with these Halloween PC pranks – We’ve handpicked our favorite PC pranks to share with you, dear reader, in hopes of sowing some mischief in offices and homes around the world. Each of these tricks is easy to set up: All you need is a wireless keyboard or mouse, and clandestine access to your target’s PC for a few minutes.

Google+ wants you and your photos to never, ever leave – Google+ has struggled to persuade the Internet that it’s more than Facebook Lite, so Google’s social network is taking a new approach: repositioning itself as a hub for photographers.

U.K. ISPs ordered to block 21 pirate sites, including top torrent destinations – The BPI, the trade association which represents the interests of the music business in the United Kingdom, has obtained a court order instructing internet service providers (ISPs) in the U.K. to block access to 21 such websites with immediate effect. The list includes some of the most popular torrent sites, including Monova, Torrentz and BitSnoop.

Not even two weeks after shutdown, BitTorrent search site isoHunt is back – Less than two weeks ago, IsoHunt, the notorious search engine site for BitTorrent files, agreed to shut down and pay $110 million in a settlement with the Motion Pictures of America Association. The site even shut down a day early as a way to avoid being part of an online archive. But now, the next generation of the site (available at and is already back. Whois information on both domains turns up no contact information. However, online records show that the new site is hosted in Australia.

New Windows 8.1 requirements strand some users on Windows 8 – A subtle tweak in Windows 8.1 hardware requirements is leaving some users behind on Windows 8. Even worse, affected users will be cut off from critical updates in 2015.

Historical Software Archive: It’s WayBack Machine for software – Internet Archive, the website that brought us WayBack Machine, is making it that little bit easier for us to recapture our productivity and gaming youth by releasing the Historical Software Collection. And what’s even better is, it’s all free.

Firefox 25 update brings Web Audio and more – Mozilla has rolled out Firefox 25, something that brings with it a variety of new happenings, the most touted of which is Web Audio. Mozilla goes into extensive detail about this, as well as a sound demo called Songs of Diridum as a special demo of LOD: Legend of Diridum, an upcoming game. For those who aren’t terribly enthused with Web Audio changes, you might be happy to know that Firefox no longer clears browser sessions when reset.

10 tech products that belong to the walking dead – Deathless, slow moving, yet relentless, the walking dead are among us in the form of scary, disintegrating tech bits that refuse to die. Here are 10 that need the double-tap.

Readers’ Choice: Top-Rated Media Boxes – From PlayStation to Roku, PCMag readers rate the entertainment devices that connect to their HDTV.

How to resolve website response and performance issues – If your websites are experiencing response and performance problems, follow these steps to try to resolve the issues and make users smile.

BBM app to add video and voice calling features “within months” and remain free – If you are one of those people that were overjoyed when BlackBerry Messaging finally came to Android and iPhone after a month delay caused mainly by an accidental early release to the Play store, and issues with the Android version, then you might be excited to learn that video and voice calling are features that will be added “within months”.

ConnecTV second-screen TV companion app adds 6-second clip-and-share functionality – ConnecTV, the second-screen app that syncs to whatever you’re watching on TV for an information-rich, social sharing experience, is today rolling out a new feature that lets you select 6-second clips and share them via Twitter, Facebook, and email.


Microsoft: Windows XP malware infection rate nearly six times higher than Windows 8 – Microsoft really wants Windows XP owners to realize that there is a serious threat in the continued use of the 12 year old OS which will see its support end on April 8th. In the company’s latest version of its Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, it goes over some new statistics that show Windows XP is still a big target for malware.

Microsoft may turn on Windows Defender for unprotected PCs – Microsoft may eventually automatically turn on Windows Defender for PCs that are left— deliberately or not—in an unprotected state, executives said Monday afternoon. Microsoft executives said, consumers who try out a firewall or antimalware package aren’t aware of when the trial period expires, so that the PC slips from a protected to an unprotected state. (Whoa – interfere with any of my machines in any way, and we’ll see how that goes Microsoft. Hint – get your checkbook out.)

Some 10,000 titles in Apple’s App Store may be susceptible to redirection hack – A large number of apps for iPhones and iPads are susceptible to hacks that cause them to surreptitiously send and receive data to and from malicious servers instead of the legitimate ones they were designed to connect to, security researchers said on Tuesday.

Adobe breach affected 150 million accounts – 38 million users were directly affected and have already been contacted by Adobe to change their passwords. That figure is above and beyond the 2.9 million accounts whose encrypted credit card information was stolen. The breach, it is now known, also included stolen source code for more of Adobe’s programs than previously believed.

MongoHQ scrambles to address major database hack – After users’ hashed passwords, e-mail addresses, and other information is exposed in a security breach, the cloud-based hosting service neutralizes the attack and works to prevent future incidents.

Company News:

Dell goes private officially – This was expected for some time, and today Dell’s Founder, Chairman, and CEO – as well as Silver Lake Partners – joined together to complete their go-private transaction for real. Terms of this agreement were also shared this morning in brief.

Intel to start manufacturing ARM chips for rivals – Intel will soon start manufacturing ARM chips by lending out its foundries to some of its rivals. It’s a huge strategic move that in the long run may benefit both Intel and consumers.

Voxbone Helps Wengo with International Expansion – Voxbone today announced that Wengo, provider of telephone expert advice, has selected Voxbone’s inbound service numbers to quickly expand its services internationally while cutting costs by consolidating existing service with Voxbone.

BlackBerry met with Facebook over possible bid for the company – As rumours swirl that its $4.7bn deal to sell to Fairfax may collapse, BlackBerry executives reportedly met with Facebook last week to discuss the possibility of it bidding for the struggling company.

Are You a Human Broadly Launches PlayThru Game-Based Verification Service for Brands – Are You a Human has broadly launched PlayThru a verification ad unit that allows marketers to deliver a brand message while users play a quick game to prove they are, well, human. PlayThru can replace CAPTCHA, a series of distorted characters traditionally used by websites providing a much better user experience, and in the process creating a new interactive branding platform.

New report shows Twitter social revenue up 300 percent – Twitter has significantly increased its Revenue Per Visitor (RPV) beating Facebook and Pinterest according to a new report out today.

Games and Entertainment:

Grand Theft Auto V sells nearly 29 million copies in first six weeks – Rockstar Games’ parent company Take Two Interactive announced today Grand Theft Auto V has now sold nearly 29 million copies in its first six weeks, well ahead of the lifetime console sales of GTA IV.

Halo: Spartan Assault coming to Xbox One, 360 in December – The exact date wasn’t announced, but you can bet it’ll show up in time for the holidays. Currently the game is available only on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 machines, as it has been since its Jul. 18, 2013 release. The Xbox versions, which will be available as a digital download, come with some exclusive features.

Off Topic (Sort of):

‘The Zuckerberg Files’ Catalogues Facebook Founder’s Public Life – The collection spans almost a decade of Zuckerberg appearances, from his first interview on CNBC in 2004 to a speech he gave last February on “What Schools Don’t Teach.” The researchers believe that analyzing Zuckerberg’s thoughts can help us observe the influence of Facebook, as well as the dominance of social media in general, on our own contemporary lives.

Happy birthday, Internet! Here are your lamest lifetime moments – On the occasion of its 44th birthday, the Internet is still young, still having growing pains, and still capable of all manner of foibles and folly. Here are our favorite dummheits from the Internet’s history so far.

10 hard-earned lessons from a lifetime in IT – Much of today’s talk is about youth ruling development and IT. Sure, there are a lot of eager, bright young people in tech, and most of them like to think that they “rule,” but the truth is we oldsters still run the show. Why? Because hard-earned lessons provide the wisdom to distinguish fantasy from reality, and the determination to do what’s necessary, not just what’s fun or cool.

Researchers build family tree with 13 million people – Geneticists mine a social network for useful data showing relationships going back centuries, and one of the world’s largest family trees.

FiberFix resin tape is 100 times stronger than duct tape – A new product aims to supplant duct tape as the ultimate fixer of broken things. FiberFix is a resin-based adhesive material that is reportedly 100 times stronger than duct tape after it has had time to cure. Simply get a strip of FiberFix wet, wrap it around the thing you want patched, and it hardens in about 10 minutes.

Steve Jobs’ Los Altos home designated historic resource – The label was applied last night following a unanimous vote by the Los Altos Historical Commission, which has officially dubbed the home a historic resource. For those unaware, this is the home where Jobs co-founded Apple and constructed some of his first computer systems.

Norwegian man’s forgotten $27 investment in Bitcoin now worth $886,000 – A Norwegian man bought $27 worth of Bitcoins back in 2009 and promptly forgot all about them. As the cryptocurrency became more popular, he was reminded of his minuscule electronic nest egg. After inspecting the contents of his Bitcoin wallet, Kristoffer Koch realized his initial $27 investment was now worth an incredible $886,000.

Something to think about:

Just put up a walls around the entire United States. Put up an electronic wall. Put up a perimeter fence. Forbid travel to or from the America and make it illegal to trade with America or its companies. Completely isolate this country inside a vacuum, make it the world’s first ‘no-go’ zone for 100 years. That way, Americans will be safe from the outside world and the outside world will be safe from America!”

–     Anonymous Canadian

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced SystemCare 7 Free – Slow down, freeze, crash and security threats are over. Advanced SystemCare Free is a comprehensive PC care utility that takes an one-click approach to help protect, repair and optimize your computer. Advanced SystemCare is a very useful system tweak application. Scanning and finding what other utilities miss, it can keep your PC error-free and smooth than ever. This fantastic program is available free of charge.

McAfee Stinger – Stinger is a stand-alone utility used to detect and remove specific viruses. It is not a substitute for full anti-virus protection, but rather a tool to assist administrators and users when dealing with an infected system. Stinger utilizes next generation scan engine technology, including process scanning, digitally signed DAT files, and scan performance optimizations.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Intelligence chief Clapper cites ‘Casablanca’ in dismissing Merkel mess – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper refers to a famous scene from the classic film in downplaying the tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone.

‘We’re Really Screwed Now,’ Says NSA Official After Surveillance Hawks Switch Sides – The National Security Agency is having a very bad day: two of the most ardent surveillance hawks have officially turned against the spying agency. California Senator Dianne Feinstein broke ranks and came out against the NSA spying on foreign leaders. Even worse, the author of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, dropped a co-authored bill to end bulk collection of Internet and telephone data.

Data privacy concerns could derail EU-US trade talks – Europe’s Justice Commissioner warned Tuesday that data privacy concerns could derail a major trade deal between the U.S. and the E.U. “The U.S. will have to take European concerns about privacy and data protection very seriously … otherwise, the European Parliament may decide to reject the TTIP,” Commissioner Viviane Reding said at a conference in Washington. TTIP—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership—is being negotiated in secret between the E.U. and U.S. It has provoked concerns in Europe that it could weaken citizens’ privacy rights.

Proposed USA FREEDOM Act Would Dramatically Curtail The NSA’s Surveillance – Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner have introduced a new bill, called the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act (USA FREEDOM Act), designed to dramatically curtail the ability of the NSA to collect information on the average United States citizen.

White House approved spying on allies, officials reportedly claim – Some current and former U.S. intelligence officials say that the administration was not only aware of but OK’d the snooping, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Dozens in Congress now ready to end bulk data program – It’s almost set up like a joke: how do we fix the Patriot Act? With the USA FREEDOM Act. Now, the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act” (or USA FREEDOM Act) has been introduced. With 70 bi-partisan co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and a dozen in the Senate, it might actually have a chance of passage.

Top U.S. spies defend surveillance of foreign leaders – Intelligence agencies in other countries do the same thing, U.S. national intelligence director Clapper tell lawmakers.

Man sues DHS, NSA for the right to parody them on mugs, T-shirts – “The agencies’ attempts to forbid McCall from displaying and selling his merchandise are inconsistent with the First Amendment,” said Paul Alan Levy, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case, in a statement. “It’s bad enough that these agencies have us under constant surveillance; forbidding citizens from criticizing them is beyond the pale.” Public Citizen is representing McCall in his suit against those government agencies, and it is asking a federal court to declare that these federal laws are unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate the First Amendment.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 29, 2013

5 personal safety apps that watch your back;  LightZone: Now free and open;  Xbox 360 for $239.99, today only;  Survey: Younger employees break the rules;  Get Organized: Back Up Your Blog;  The best PC horror games;  Sen. Dianne Feinstein changes tune;  The loss of the unguarded self ;  Zuckerberg said what about privacy?

5 personal safety apps that watch your back – Whether you’re going on a blind date, on a run, to a late movie, or just taking a sketchy cab, it’s worthwhile to have one of these apps on your phone, even if just for peace of mind.

Amazon selling Xbox 360 250GB Kinect bundle for $239.99, today only – The retail website currently lists the 250GB Kinect Xbox 360 bundle for $239.99, a savings of $160. Remember, this deal is for today only and while supplies last. The $160 savings could be used to buy a few more games or perhaps a controller or two.

LightZone: This photo editing alternative to Lightroom is now free and open – LightZone is the essential desktop photo-editing software for people who value their photographs. LightZone is purpose-built for photography and allows anyone, regardless of photographic skillset, to edit photographs quickly and easily. LightZone’s patented image-processing analyzes every photograph and allows photo-editors to make smart visual edits, instantly and with ease.

Rare ‘Star Wars’ blooper reel emerges on YouTube – There are some classic moments on offer, including flubbed lines, stray Wookiee arm hair getting in the way, and Stormtroopers falling all over each other. The first 48 seconds have no sound, which really just adds to the hilarity of costumes failing, C-3PO taking a tumble in the sand, and a land speeder losing part of its undercarriage.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Glass 2 is coming, finally compatible with prescription glasses – The next version of Glass will finally be compatible with people who already wear glasses via “future lines of shades and prescription frames.” The second edition of Glass will also include a mono earbud, likely replacing the terrible bone conduction speaker in the current version.

Starbucks now lets you gift a coffee through a tweet – The new Tweet a Coffee feature is a collaboration between Twitter and Starbucks. It involves you syncing your Starbucks account with your Twitter account and then the gift-tweeting can begin. Simply send a tweet to a person you know and include @tweetacoffee. This triggers a $5 e-gift being sent to their Twitter account, which can then be used in Starbucks either in printed form or just by bringing it up on your smartphone’s display at the counter.

Get Organized: Back Up Your Blog – If the service hosting your blog were compromised or shut down, what would happen to your site? Here are some different methods for backing up a Tumblr, WordPress, or Blogger blog.

App For Doctors Sends Unencrypted Data – Described by developers as a “next-generation medical calculator and decision support tool,” Calculate has already proved popular with between 100,000 and 500,000 downloads from Google Play. But Appthority’s CTO Kevin Watkins writes that app fails to live up to the promises made by its own privacy policy. Specifically, the app sends private data over the network unencrypted and in plaintext. “This action directly contradicts what is stated in the app’s privacy policy: that all data is to be encrypted when transmitted,” writes Watkins.

Study: 38 Percent of Toddlers Have Used a Mobile Device – Within the past two years, the number of children using mobile media has doubled, while the average amount of time they spend on those devices grew three-fold. (Gotta be true – I haven’t met a parent yet, who hasn’t bragged that their toddler is tech savvy. 🙂 )

Pediatricians: Limit kids’ media use to 2 hours a day – American Academy of Pediatrics also tells parents to discourage any screen time for children 2 and younger and keep Internet-connected devices out of kids’ bedrooms.

Get Organized: How I Cleaned Up My Passwords in 5 Weeks – After learning I had 45 weak passwords, I set out to change them all. Here’s how I got strong, unique passwords in just over a month.

How to Set Up Remote Desktop Access – It’s not hard to use Windows Remote Desktop Connection to access an offsite PC, if you follow our step-by-step guide.

Free iWork upgrade angers Mac users – Apple’s iWork free upgrade has angered long-time Mac power users, who have flooded the company’s support forum with complaints about lost features. ‘Serial software killer,’ one customer calls Apple after it yanks features from desktop applications.

NVIDIA ShadowPlay released for ease in screen recording – This morning NVIDIA sent out the newest version of the GeForce Experience, a software suite allowing users to optimize the settings of their games based on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics processor they have running. This suite gained a major addition this week called ShadowPlay. ShadowPlay allows the user to add a high-powered screen video recording system to their experience with a tap of a switch and a set of shortcuts.

OS wars 2013: How the latest Mac and Windows upgrades compare – After reviewing Mac OS X Mavericks last week and with the release of Windows 8.1 the week before, I figured it’s time to take another look at how operating systems are evolving — for better or worse.


Syrian Electronic Army hacks President Obama’s websites, social media – The Syrian Electronic Army hacked US President Barack Obama’s nonprofit website Organizing for Action last night, sending reverberations throughout the President’s social media presence. The SEA proceeded to hack into the President’s campaign website as well as OFA’s custom URL shortener. It then began posting pro-SEA URL redirects to the President’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, among other politically motivated mischief.

“You have no idea how much we can f**k with the US,” alleged hacker says – Federal prosecutors have accused a UK man of hacking thousands of computer systems, many of them belonging to the US government, and stealing massive quantities of data that resulted in millions of dollars in damages to victims.

ATM malware may spread from Mexico to English-speaking world – A malicious software program found in ATMs in Mexico has been improved and translated into English, which suggests it may be used elsewhere, according to security vendor Symantec. Two versions of the malware, called Ploutus, have been discovered, both of which are engineered to empty a certain type of ATM, which Symantec has not identified.

Survey: younger employees break the rules and put your company at risk – Despite the freewheeling autononmy implied by the “bring your own device” movement, companies that embrace the consumerization of IT still have policies in place to govern the management and security of those devices. According to a new survey from Fortinet, though, a majority of younger employees are more than willing to ignore those policies if they don’t agree with them.

Company News:

Apple confirms future versions of OS X will also be free – This confirmation came aside several comments from Apple on how the decision to make their software suites – and operating system for desktop computers – free was an easy decision in the end. They also made clear that this move is prepared to follow suit with a $900M increase (sequentially) in net revenue appearing thanks to software upgrade rights and non-software services.

Apple Sold 33.8 Million iPhones, 14.1 Million iPads, And 4.6 Million Macs In Q4 2013 – Well, folks, Apple has just put up some mixed numbers in its fiscal Q4 2013 earnings release — $37.5 billion in revenue and $7.5 billion in net profit to be exact — but how exactly did the tech titan fare in terms of hardware sales? This time around Apple sold 33.8 million iPhones (which it notes is a record for Q4), 14.1 million iPads and 4.6 million Macs during the quarter.

Samsung Nets $100M NBA Courtside Tech Deal – Samsung will serve as the NBA’s official handset, tablet, and television provider, supplying the courtside technology used by referees to review plays throughout the season.

Huawei ban upheld in Australia following government review – Huawei, alongside with ZTE, has been the subject of concerns and scrutiny by the United States government and others, with fears revolving around possible spying that could be taking place on behalf of the Chinese government. The maker has previously been banned from use on Australia’s National Broadband Network, something that was recently reviewed with the anticipation that the block would be ended. Such was not the case, however.

Nvidia cuts high-end graphics card prices to fight AMD – In a textbook example of why competition is good, Nvidia has dropped the price on two of its high-end graphics cards, presumably to keep up with rival AMD.

Games and Entertainment:

Now panic and freak out: The best PC horror games – If you can’t find something here that terrifies you, you’re probably already dead.

BioShock Infinite Burial at Sea Episode One DLC lands November 12 – One of the most popular video game franchises that 2K Games has is BioShock. The original game had players fighting and a dilapidated under sea city where they battled against all sorts of crazy characters. The latest game in the franchise is BioShock Infinite and 2K and Irrational Games have announced a new DLC pack will be coming on November 12.

Assassin’s Creed IV review: Enormous, but ultimately empty – Ubisoft takes to the seas, but there’s a hole in its open-world pirate ship.

Xbox One gameplay tour shows console’s interface in action – As the Xbox One’s launch date closes in, Microsoft has been dropping teasers and snippets of its various console-related offerings, not the least of which is a gameplay tour video it has posted today. With the video, gamers are given their first look at the Xbox One’s interface, which is very similar to Windows 8 and its various tiles.

Trouserheart is an Accessible Hack-And-Slash for iOS and Android – Trouserheart is a hack-and-slash adventure where you play the role of a king whose pants have been stolen by kleptomaniac monsters. So, it’s off on a quest to find your stolen pants. You’d expect the king to have a change of clothing, but he makes it through the whole game in his red heart-patterned underwear.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The loss of the unguarded self – Historians will look back at the past 20 years as a unique period, a time when there was great opportunity to see deep into the collective soul of entire societies because people’s online behavior was largely naked of any fears of being judged or monitored. People now go “dark” — ditching their natures, becoming self-monitored, self-critical, and second guessing themselves and everything around them, in the wake of the NSA disclosures and the enormous amount of corporate spying on individuals, so that they will buy more products. We lose far more than we gain.

A decade of Express trips to Mars (pictures) – Images from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express take viewers on an unforgettable journey across the Red Planet.

Zuckerberg said what about privacy? Researchers create archive to find out – The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is hosting the Zuckerberg Files, a digital treasure trove containing over 100 full-text transcripts and about 50 video files documenting Zuckerberg’s public statements for scholars to download and analyze. The statements include Zuckerberg-authored blog posts, company presentations, and print and video interviews going as far back as 2004.

If Google Glass could do this, it’d start a revolution – Taiwan’s ITRI has a floating augmented-reality touch-screen system that would improve upon “Minority Report” technology, and it’s ready to license it.

FAA approves World View balloon ride plans – The capsule used by World View was expected to be classified as a spacecraft and to be forced to meet guidelines for space travel. The FAA has now reportedly giving a preliminary classification approval to World View and the capsule will in fact qualify as a space launch vehicle under section 50902(8) of its guidelines covering commercial space launch vehicles.

It’s criminal: Data sharing lags among law enforcement agencies – Only 23% of law enforcement agencies participate in a national data warehouse — here’s why.

Something to think about:

Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

–     George Bernard Shaw

Today’s Free Downloads:

SystemRescueCd 3.8.1 – SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash.

Free Ringtone Maker – An extremely simple and handy Windows software for making your own free ringtones.

Artweaver Free 4.0.3 – Artweaver lets you paint creatively with the help of a huge range of painting tools. You can create sketches from photos or just experiment with colors.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Either Obama Knew About NSA Spying On Chancellor Merkel, Which Is Bad, Or He Didn’t, Which Is Worse – The U.S. government is in a bind this week after conflicting reports have emerged regarding its surveillance of German Chancellor Merkel’s phone. According to the Wall Street Journal, government officials informed it that President Obama halted spying efforts on a number of world leaders, Merkel included, after an administration audit.

Senator changes tune, now is “totally opposed” to foreign leader surveillance: “Our oversight needs to be strengthened and increased,” says Sen. Dianne Feinstein – “Let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed,” Feinstein said. “Unlike NSA’s collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed. Therefore our oversight needs to be strengthened and increased.”

Human rights commission questions NSA surveillance – The U.S. government needs to answer for human rights abuses related to the National Security Agency’s massive worldwide surveillance of Internet communications and telephone records, privacy advocates told an international human rights board Monday.

Lavabit founder says he fought feds to protect the Constitution – In a sit-down at CNET headquarters, Lavabit CEO Ladar Levison discusses the legal bureaucracy the US government employed to try to force him to become complicit with NSA surveillance.

Spain demands details of US eavesdropping – Spain has demanded details of reported mass US eavesdropping on its citizens, denouncing the alleged surveillance as ‘inappropriate and unacceptable’ as outrage spreads over the worldwide espionage program.


Is Italy next in line for NSA spying revelations? – As reports of NSA spying in Italy start to surface, the government and others have called for more clarity on just how far the country’s communications are being monitored.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 28, 2013

What to Expect with Windows 8.1;  Online encrypted notepad keeps it simple;  Privacy tips – Google, Facebook and others;  Telegram, A Secure Messaging App;  Best features of Ubuntu 13.10;  Windows 8.1 activation – bypassed;  Online comments full of paid lies?  CryptoPrevent 2.4 (download).

What to Expect with Windows 8.1 – No one would argue that Windows 8 created quite a brouhaha from the moment it was announced. Small children screamed. Grown men cried. Eulogies were read. The remainder of the world’s population wondered out loud if Windows 8 was the end of computing as we knew it. OK, I’ll admit I may be a little over the top in describing the reactions, but Windows 8 was more divisive than Windows ME and Windows Vista combined! Was it deserved? Not in my opinion. (Highly recommended)

Must-know privacy tips for Google, Facebook and other online services – So many core aspects of our lives have shifted to the cloud, mostly to our great benefit: Gmail and maintain our email archives. Dropbox and SkyDrive make your files available anywhere, anytime. Windows 8.1 searches include Bing results by default. Google Now dishes out the information you need before you even know you need it. But every gain in convenience comes with a loss of control, and that loss of control all too often comes bundled with privacy or security woes.

Want to know who’s spying on you online? There’s an app for that – Mozilla has released a tool that will allow users of the Firefox browser to know which companies are tracking them online.

Meet Telegram, A Secure Messaging App – Created by the founders of Russia’s biggest social networking platform, Telegram is a new messaging app that offers speed, security and features such as secret chats with end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages.

Free online encrypted notepad keeps it simple – ProtectedText lets you store your text on the company’s encrypted servers, which the company itself can’t decrypt — no registration or other ID sharing required.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Five free resume building apps – Where do you begin? What information do you need? How do you lay it out in a professional manner? Thankfully, you don’t have to keep swimming in that sea of confusion. There are plenty of apps and sites available that will aid you in the process of creating a professional resume. I have looked under the rocks and between the crevices to find five free apps to tackle that task. And here they are.

Official Facebook app zooms to first among free Windows 8.1 apps – The official Facebook app for Windows 8.1 has quickly become the most downloaded free app in the Windows Store. In addition the app has received its first software update.

Five fantastic free apps for fantasy football fans – If your team is struggling, don’t throw in the towel—the info in these apps can help you turn it all around.

10 best features of Ubuntu 13.10 – Jack Wallen lists the 10 features that make Saucy Salamander a more polished Ubuntu distribution.

Top 15 social media mistakes every business can avoid – So how can you create a positive impression of your business and/or your products on popular social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+—and avoid potentially costly social media blunders? asked dozens of social media experts and managers to find out. Here are their top 15 picks for the most common social media mistakes businesses make and how to avoid them.

Huge Google Shift Points To Faster Search Results – Researchers at USC have stumbled on a huge change in how Google architects its search services. The result? Reduced lag in serving search queries, especially in more far flung regions (as in, far from Google’s own data centres).


Buffer spam-and-hack attack resolved, new security layers instituted – Buffer, an app that lets users schedule and post Facebook, Twitter and Google+ updates, is now back up and running after a two-day hack-and-spam ordeal. Buffer was hacked yesterday, sending out third-party spam to thousands of Buffer users’ Facebook pages. The company has cleaned up the mess for the most part and instituted new security measures to prevent future blowouts.

Cryptolocker: How to avoid getting infected and what to do if you are – The newest piece of ransomware is particularly nasty and, once you’ve got it, it’s a real pain to get rid of. Here’s how to protect your corporate assets before getting bit.

12 year old Anonymous hacker pleads guilty to DDOS attack – Could this 12 year old Canadian boy be the new Julian Assange? The fifth-grade hacker appeared in court on Thursday after he was accused of aiding an Anonymous DDOS attack on government websites.

Even the savvy digital natives get hacked, survey reveals – The millennial generation, those who were born and raised alongside the Internet, should be wise enough to avoid account hijackings and other scams, but it turns out not to be true. In fact, one out of four millennials have admitted to having at least once incident where an online account was hacked. In the interest of awareness and critical thought for National Cyber Security Awareness Month, CSO examined the results from a recent survey conducted by Marble Security.

US Reigning Spampions – United States, Belarus, and India take the leading three spots on the “Dirty Dozen” list for countries that send the most amount of spam; consistent with what SophosLabs has seen this past year. Countries on this list aren’t necessarily spammers, but they are spam senders. Spam senders and spammers are two different things.

Windows 8.1 activation has been bypassed – Windows 8.1 can now be activated by a “traditional” Key Management Service workaround, so even pirated software can appear to be legitimate. The hack comes only days after the OS has hit the market.

Company News:

AT&T to phase out per-minute, per-text billing – AT&T will no longer offer per-minute billing plans to most of its new customers, reports the Wall Street Journal. Following the industry trend towards unlimited talk time and texts, the company will only offer one per-minute plan, a meager 450 minutes per month for about $40, plus extra for texts and data.

Ashton Kutcher confirmed as Lenovo’s new spokesperson – Actor Ashton Kutcher has now been confirmed as the new spokesperson for Lenovo and will make his official debut on Monday night to launch the company’s “betterway” campaign.

Microsoft reportedly in discussions for rights to name Real Madrid’s stadium – Microsoft is said to be in early discussions with the Real Madrid soccer team to buy the rights to name the team’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, while Bill Gates himself is reportedly part of the talks.

BlackBerry Denies Paying for Fake BBM for Android Reviews – The Android and iOS apps hit 10 million downloads in just 24 hours, and according to the Android reviews, everyone is loving the BlackBerry Messenger experience. But the effusive nature of some of those reviews, as well as similar wording, prompted some to speculate that some reviews were not from average BBM users but BlackBerry PR.

Games and Entertainment:

Call of Duty: Strike Team Breaches Google Play With Limited Device Support – Activision mentioned only a few days ago that it was working on a true Call of Duty game for the Android platform, and it’s already here. Call of Duty: Strike Team is in Google Play, but it’s only compatible with certain devices right now. This shooter is a hybrid of the first-person experience and a top-down tactical action game. For COD fans, this will probably be a winner.

Amazon offers free $20 Xbox Live gift card with 12 month Xbox Live subscription – Today, Amazon started a limited time promotion that lets people get a free $20 Xbox Live gift card if they purchase a full year’s worth of a Xbox Live membership for $59.90.

Anki Drive Review: Slot-Car Racing for the Robotics Age – A startup’s first toy is terrific fun and a technological tour de force — as long as you can live with the high price and skimpy battery life.

Alienware offers $200 trade-in credit on new PCs for your gaming console – With the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on the way, Alienware tries to make PC gaming a slightly better deal.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Student game world takes historic London maps into 3D space – Six students from De Montfort University won first prize in the Off The Map challenge when they turned maps of seventeenth century London into a detailed 3D world. Pudding Lane Productions offered a fly-through of seventeenth century London and, although unpopulated, is packed with references to human activity—laundry on lines, market stalls and so on.

Internet Archive’s new Historical Software Archive lets you interact with software as-it-was – The Internet Archive this weekend released a new addition to its growing collection of historical media, the Historical Software Collection. The collection lets you run old, outdated, and historically important software right inside the modern browser. This marks the first time a project of this kind has been taken on to such a large extent, and it is free to the public.

Are online comments full of paid lies? – A thriving industry of paid-for user comments pollutes social networks with fake opinions. Even Samsung does it.

Chemists find biological complexes that beat chance – Scientists have used a set of modern biomolecules to show that the formation of larger, more complex groupings of molecules may be inherently favored. They found that when components of the molecular machines that exist in living cells today are mixed with membrane material, functional complexes form more often than you’d expect from chance.

God exists, say Apple fanboy scientists – With the help of just one MacBook, two Germans formalize a theorem that confirms the existence of God. Allegedly, of course.

‘Twitter Bra’ Raises Breast Cancer Awareness – A bra that sends out a tweet every time it’s unclasped may sound like some kind of racy evolution of Foursquare or, more darkly, a digital update on the chastity belt. But the Greek ad agency behind the contraption assures us it’s all for a good cause, raising awareness of breast cancer.

Video review: Zooming across Texas in the Tesla Model S – Tesla Motors recently loaned Ars Technica a tricked out $121,870 Model S P85+, and we clocked about 500 miles with the car over 3 days. In that time, we captured almost ten hours of raw video, which we’ve distilled down to a few brief minutes.

Police firing GPS tracking ‘bullets’ at cars during chases – In Iowa and Florida, they have a new method of chasing suspects. The police car’s grill opens up and out is projected a better method of keeping up with the vehicle they’re chasing.

Something to think about:

“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”

–      Kurt Vonnegut

Today’s Free Downloads:

USB Image Tool – USB Image Tool boils down the process of creating and restoring disk images of USB flash drives to a few easy steps. It has a welcoming feel for beginners while still doing the job for advanced users. The program is portable so there is no need for installation. (Note: This application is offered through CNET. Please pay particular attention to the “offers” wrapped in the installer.)

BitTorrent 7.8.2 – A peer-to-peer file sharing/distribution protocol designed for transferring files from multiple locations.

CryptoPrevent 2.4 – CryptoPrevent is a tiny utility to lock down any Windows OS to prevent infection by the Cryptolocker malware or ‘ransomware’, which encrypts personal files and then offers decryption for a paid ransom.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Dear AV provider: Do you enable NSA spying? Yours, EFF – The Electronic Frontier Foundation, security expert Bruce Schneier, and 23 others have called on antivirus providers around the world to protect their users against malware spawned by the National Security Agency and other groups that carry out government surveillance. Schneier has said that the NSA only relies on these methods when analysts have a high degree of confidence that the malware won’t be noticed. That means detection by AV programs could make the difference between such attacks succeeding, failing, or being used at all.

Report: Germany Wants Its Own Internet After Spying Revelations – State-backed Deutsche Telekom is currently urging other German communications firms to “cooperate to shield local Internet traffic from foreign intelligence services” like the National Security Agency (NSA), Reuters reported Friday.

A Computer Program That Hacks Language & Exposes US Secrets – Many academics, like Columbia University historian Matthew Connelly, would like to be able to access the information that’s hidden by the government but doesn’t really need to be. That’s why he is leading a project called the Declassification Engine, an effort to find out more from documents that are declassified but have significant portions redacted, with words, phrases, and sometimes whole paragraphs blacked out. Considering that the declassified archive includes hundreds of millions of pages, going through them all by hand isn’t a feasible option. So Connelly is working with computer scientists to try to automatically pull useful information from the documents. (recommended by Michael F.)

NSA Says Site Outage Due to Error, Not Hacking Attack – The NSA site was reportedly down as early as around 3 p.m. Eastern on Friday and still remained inaccessible at around 11 p.m., with some Twitter accounts associated with the Anonymous hacktivist collective taking credit for a malicious takedown of the site via distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, Gizmodo reported.

Protesters rally in DC to end NSA mass surveillance – A crowd of about 5000 people, chanting “stop spying, stop lying” and “hey, ho, mass surveillance has got to go,” marched through Washington, D.C., Saturday to protest the U.S. National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs unveiled in press reports this year.

How one small American VPN company is trying to stand up for privacy – In recent months, I’ve started to take my own digital security much more seriously. I encrypt my e-mail when possible, I’ve moved away from Gmail, and I’ve become much more vigilant about using a VPN nearly all the time. Just as cryptographers and security researchers are auditing tools like TrueCrypt, I’ve started to kick the tires of the products that I rely upon on daily basis.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 25, 2013

Evidence that You Can’t Trust the Cloud; NFL Mobile for Android and iOS; Extend your Wi-Fi network; 5 Tips for Getting More out of Gmail; Get the Most Out of Windows 8.1; 8 myths about wearable tech; Smart TVs are dumb, and so are we; Spying on the spies, a roundup of NSA news.

Extend your Wi-Fi network throughout the house – Extending a Wi-Fi network can be as easy as playing with cardboard and tape, or as difficult as rewiring your house. It all depends how big a boost you need, and how much time and money you’re willing to devote to the task. Here are three ways to increase your signal’s range.

Storage 101: Secure, Accessible Options at Home and in the Cloud – Hard drives are the unsung heroes in our increasingly exciting digital lives. They’re the key to saving, protecting, and accessing the data that drives your world. Whether you’re an avid photographer, an accountant, a music lover, a graphic designer, a traveling executive, or all of the above, you need a well-selected suite of smart storage solutions to keep your files safe from loss or destruction, secure from prying eyes, and available right when and where you want them.

30 Percent of Americans Get News on Facebook – Most U.S. adults don’t go on Facebook in search of news, but many find it there, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

Vine shoots for 6-second bliss with saved drafts, video editing – Twitter-owned Vine is giving its more than 40 million users the power to perfect their 6-second clips with two new camera tools. The handy features, added Thursday to Vine for iPhone and Android, have funky names to denote their playful appeal.

NFL Mobile for Android and iOS – As the brand new, redesigned and rebuilt official app of the NFL, NFL Mobile carries football right to your Android phone or tablet! Receive Breaking news, Video highlights, Live game scores, Custom Team News, manage your Fantasy Football Team, and more!

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

5 Tips for Getting More out of Gmail – Gmail is a comprehensive, powerful email program, but it can be confusing, even for those like me who’ve been using it since it launched in Beta in 2004. Some changes are welcome, like the new tabs feature that sorts incoming mail into types of mail. Others may streamline the look, but hide basic options, like changing the subject on an email reply. So I’ve pulled together the five features I find most useful in the current iteration of Gmail.

Get the Most Out of Windows 8.1 – Windows 8.1 has been one of the most-maligned operating systems in recent memory, and, in my opinion, much of what’s been written about it has been misguided, unfair, and just plain wrong. The piling-on Microsoft has experienced in the rollout of its new operating system just goes to illustrate the weakness of the technology journalism field. As a tech journalist, I have some advice for tech fans – Don’t rely blindly on tech journalists—try it for yourself! Most tech journalists are concerned with one thing: getting lots of page views. And they know that one sure-fire technique is to take a scathing, negative attitude.

8 myths about wearable tech – Wearable devices are predominantly technical fascinations at the moment, but they have widespread market potential — if misconceptions can be set straight.

Microsoft releases IE11 reliability patch for Windows 8.1 – Microsoft has released its first post-release patch for Windows 8.1, along with Windows RT 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, which is meant to improve the reliability of Internet Explorer 11.

DroneShield Offers Hunters an Early Warning System for PETA Drones – The crowd-funded startup recently hit the market with a Raspberry Pi-based, plug-in drone detection device that scans the skies for common drone acoustic signatures.

What happens when your cloud provider goes out of business? – Going with cloud providers doesn’t mean you can forget about disaster planning. What if they go out of business, taking your server capacity and data with them?

Yet More Evidence that You Can’t Trust the Cloud: If it’s important to you, don’t store your only copy on the Net – Over at ITworld, my friend (and former boss) Dan Tynan has a chilling account of cloud computing gone awry. It begins with his discovery that his Box online storage account had mysteriously gone missing. And the explanation of what happened is downright bizarre.

Shoppers want their iPads sharp and cheap, survey says – U.S. iPad buyers want Retina Displays but are willing to give up storage capacity and data plans for a better price point, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners finds.

How to work productively from cafes and public spaces – Caffeine and free Wi-Fi are a potent recipe for productivity. It’s what lures you and many other telecommuters to spend serious work time in convenient coffee shops. But whether you’re just getting out of the office or the sidewalk café is your office, working in a public space has some special challenges. These tips will help you stay safe and productive.

Windows RT 8.1 Start screen no longer includes desktop tile by default – Microsoft has confirmed that new devices with Windows RT 8.1 such as the Surface 2 eliminate the desktop tile on the Start screen as a default, although it can be easily enabled.

Mac App Store flaw sees trial and illegal copies of Apple’s apps offered free upgrade – Those who had already purchased copies of the software for their Macs, or bought a new Mac on or after October 1st, were also offered a free upgrade through the Mac App Store. However, there’s a problem Apple didn’t foresee, and it’s giving lots of users who have never purchased the software a free upgrade.


LinkedIn Intro App Equivalent to Man in the Middle Attack, Experts Say – LinkedIn’s release of its Intro app yesterday for Apple iOS mobile devices raised more than a few eyebrows for behaviors that are tantamount to a man-in-the-middle attack, experts said. This is one introduction you may not want to make.

Hackers compromise official PHP website, infect visitors with malware – Maintainers of the open-source PHP programming language have locked down the website after discovering two of its servers were hacked to host malicious code designed to surreptitiously install malware on visitors’ computers. The compromise was discovered Thursday morning by Google’s safe browsing service, which helps the Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers automatically block sites that serve drive-by exploits.

Smart TVs are dumb, and so are we – Korean hacker SeungJin Lee can turn a smart TV into a surveillance and disinformation machine, thanks to the vendor’s slack security coding. When will we learn?

UN Nuclear Regulator Infected with Malware – The United Nations nuclear regulatory body announced that it found malware on a number of its machines but that its networks have not been compromised.

Infographic: Encryption crackability – What are the recommended RSA key sizes for protecting data? Here’s a chart with estimations of how long it would take to break encryption methods.

A (relatively easy to understand) primer on elliptic curve cryptography – Everything you wanted to know about the next generation of public key crypto.

Company News:

Despite Dip in Windows Sales, Microsoft Posts Record Quarter – Microsoft reported record sales of $18.5 billion for its fiscal first quarter, with net income jumping by a healthy 17 percent from a year ago to $5.2 billion.

Twitter to price its IPO shares between $17 and $20 – Based on an assumed initial public offering price of $18.50 — the midpoint of the range — Twitter estimates the net proceeds from the sale of shares of common stock will be roughly $1.25 billion, the company said in documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

YouTube’s Music Service Is Reportedly Almost Ready – Billboard reports that YouTube’s long-rumored subscription music service is close to launching. It’ll reportedly emphasize music videos, and will be a separate service from Google Play All Access, a competitor to Spotify that arrived over the summer.

HP to cut 7,100 jobs in Europe, with more to come worldwide – The computing giant plows ahead with its plan to cut more than 29,000 jobs globally as it aims to reinvest into the company, and cut overall costs.

Taiwan fines Samsung for defaming HTC with fabricated reviews – Taiwan has slapped Korean electronics giant Samsung with a fine for fabricating Internet forum posts that praised the company at the expense of rivals including its home-country handset competitor HTC. On Thursday, Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission said it was punishing Samsung with a $341,037 fine for deceiving consumers with its marketing activities.

Microsoft announces plans for new retail stores in Connecticut and Ontario – Microsoft has announced it plans to open two new full retail stores in Hartford, Connecticut in the U.S. and Mississauga, Ontario in Canada, as part of its continued retail expansion.

Games and Entertainment:

Alone: A game in your game so you can game while you game – In this horror game for the Oculus Rift, you’re playing on the couch in your living room. As the in-game story progresses, elements start to bleed out of the television and into your environment.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer sets fire to the future – The first full-length trailer for Captain America 2 has been released, and inside you’ll find no shares of the past.

Dead Trigger 2 Launches on Android and iOS – Mobile developer Madfinger Games is known for the top shooter titles Shadowgun and Dead Trigger. Continuing that tradition, Madfinger is today releasing Dead Trigger 2 on iOS and Android as a free-to-play title with more zombie shooting than you can shake a shotgun at.

Killzone on PS4 has no loading screens, was 290GB until Guerrilla optimized for Blu-ray – Here’s a few interesting facts about Killzone: Shadow Fall to kick off this article: The finished game including individual assets for all the levels comes in at 290GB of data. The final version of the game being burned on to PS4 Blu-ray discs is 39.7GB. And the most surprising fact of all is that Killzone 3 on the PS3 is actually larger, with 41.5GB of disc space required. The main reason for this massive amount of data is textures.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why snap judgments at warp speed are ruining the Internet – CNET managing editor Jen Guevin issues a plea for more considered thought online, in way more than 140 characters.

Beyond smartphones: 12 crazy places you’d never expect to find Android – From coffee makers to freakin’ ninja robots just itching to sock you in the mouth, here are the most intriguing, eccentric, and downright weird places you’ll find Android. Phones? Pfah. Phones are boring.

Unbelievable time-lapse shows woman aging from 2 to 70 – Nobody better comment that this is a fake. It’s true that the surface conceit here is a lie — in other words, nobody stood motionless in front of a camera for sixty-eight years for a photographer’s portfolio piece and a few hits on Vimeo. That said, video editor Anthony Cerniello along with a team of animators and artists have put together an impressive simulation of how such a project might look.

Twitter troll arrested for allegedly threatening US baseball team, execs and even their home field – The New York Mets fan reportedly is being held in connection with tweeted threats that include sneaking into the clubhouse and putting bombs in everyone’s cleats. If this is the work of a fan, who needs enemies?

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, review: Figures of fun – Science writer Simon Singh has written books on alternative medicine, the origin of the universe, cryptography and Fermat’s Last Theorem. Here he takes a light-hearted look at the mathematical jokes hidden in the longest-running show in US television history.

Something to think about:

“Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.”

–     Lord Acton

Today’s Free Downloads:

NoMachine – Travel from your desktop to any NoMachine-enabled computer, share your desktop with others, play games remotely, record your desktop activity for screencasting and presentations, access all your files and folders, use USB devices and printers as if they were all locally connected, all in a single, free and easy to use package. (Note: This application is offered through CNET. Please pay particular attention to the “offers” wrapped in the installer.)

Memtest86 4.3.5 – MemTest86 is a free, thorough, stand alone memory test for x86 architecture computers.

FotoSketcher 2.60 – A 100% free program which can help you convert your digital photos into art, automatically.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Merkel wasn’t alone: NSA tapped calls of 35 world leaders – The German leader’s phone isn’t the only line tapped by the U.S. National Security Agency. Dozens of other world leaders’ phones were monitored, according to the latest leaks.

Snowden rebuts Feinstein’s statement that NSA spying “is not surveillance”: “No telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA.” – Today, new Snowden comments emerged in which he directly took on Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who last week defended the NSA spying programs in a controversial op-ed in USA Today.

Lavabit encryption key ruling threatens Internet privacy, EFF argues – A court order forcing former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s email provider to turn over its master encryption key undermines a critical security feature used by major Internet services, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said Thursday. The EFF, a digital rights watchdog, filed a brief on Thursday in support of the email provider, Lavabit, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

NSA memo to staff: Help us spy on foreign leaders – Latest Snowden leak is memo published by Guardian that contains plea for access to US officials’ Rolodexes and cites acquisition of 35 world leaders’ phone numbers.

Merkel puts NSA spying on EU leaders’ agenda – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency hacked her phone is relevant for every citizen who needs to trust digital communications. Arriving at the meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels, she told reporters: “The spying isn’t all about me. Trust with the U.S. can only be built on mutual respect.” She added that spying on “friends” is misguided.

Spying on the spies, a roundup of NSA news – State Department insider says German chancellor’s reaction to phone tap may be an act; an enterprising tweeter works some spycraft on the NSA; Snowden speaks out; and more.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 24, 2013

How to – Security overhaul on your family network;  Walmart Launches Tablet Trade-in Program;  Microsoft reduces Surface Pro prices;  Chrome lets parents snoop on their kids;  Recover lost form data in your browser;  Plants vs. Zombies 2 arrives for Android;  TestDisk & PhotoRec 7.0;  EU Parliament votes to suspend data sharing deal with US;  A Rally Against Mass Surveillance.

A Rally Against Mass Surveillance – The NSA is spying on everyone’s personal communications. It’s operating without any meaningful oversight. On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA Patriot Act, we’re holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. A stellar group of whistleblowers, activists, researchers and others from both sides of the political spectrum will be speaking at this historic event. (suggested by Delenn13)

Security begins at home – how to do a “back to basics” security overhaul on your family network – Sophos security expert John Shier explains how he carried out a “back to basics” security overhaul on his family network. He wrote it up as a handy checklist for anyone else acting as in-house IT support.

Walmart Launches Tablet Trade-in Program – Walmart on Wednesday announced it is adding tablets to its store trade-in program. Starting today, customers can trade in their tablets at more than 3,600 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores nationwide. Like its new smartphone trade-in program, customers can receive up to $300 for their current tablet, which will then be applied toward the purchase of a new tablet.

How to get the most money for your old iPad – Lots of services allow you to sell back your old iPad in exchange for cash or store credit—or at least unload it on someone else who will dispose of it or recycle it for you. Here’s what you need to know about four popular gadget-buyback services, and how much they’ll give you for that “ancient” 18-month-old iPad you can’t bear to use anymore.

Chrome lets parents snoop on their kids’ browsing with ‘Supervised Users’ – Want to know what your kids (or less technically-inclined roommates) have been looking at online? The new Chrome Beta has added support for supervised accounts so you can do just that!

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

FBstalker Automates Facebook Graph Search Data Mining – Built as a tool for penetration testers and enterprise IT security teams, FBstalker was released last Thursday. It can quickly, with just a Facebook user name, build a profile of a person’s activity on the social network. Researchers Keith Lee and Jonathan Werrett of SpiderLabs hope that businesses can use it to educate workers and consumers about how much they’re sharing with social networks and how over-sharing could facilitate phishing or lead to more invasive network attacks.

Best Chrome apps for managing data, clients, money, and more – Chrome apps are growing up, moving beyond geeky curiosities to products that people could use to get stuff done in the real world. Look no further: Here are nine incredibly useful Chrome apps for working with data, clients, projects, and more.

PETA Launches Drone Fleet to Monitor Hunters – PETA is selling its remote-contolled “Air Angels” hobby drones for $324.99 to members and other interested parties through its online catalog. The organization recently deployed drone aircraft in Massachusetts to keep an eye on bowhunters, capturing video of a demonstration run that can be viewed on PETA’s website.

How to quickly recover lost form data in your browser – Lazarus automatically (and securely, with a password if you prefer) saves every keystroke you enter into any Web form, blog tool, comment box, or what have you. I can’t count the number of times Lazarus has rescued me from accidental deletions, wayward keystrokes, and the like. If you use any of the supported browsers, this is a must-have extension.

Wunderlist: Serious to-do list management for your Android tablet – Jack Wallen walks through the installation and usage of Wunderlist, a to-do list application that may even rival Evernote.

Apple’s GarageBand Goes Freemium Alongside Free iWork – GarageBand for Mac and iOS are free for all OS X Mavericks and iOS 7 users. Additional instruments and sounds, however, will cost a one-time in-app-purchase price of $4.99 each.

Force YouTube to buffer your entire video – Thanks to a browser add-on called YouTube Center, it’s now possible to disable DASH, thus forcing YouTube to buffer your entire video. The bad news is that it can be a little tricky to install depending on which browser you use. The Firefox crowd has it easy: Just grab the extension via Mozilla’s Add-Ons library (assuming you’re okay with installing a “non-reviewed” extension). As a Chrome user, I had to jump through a few hoops

Facebook finally bans beheading videos – For a time Facebook was fine with videos showing forced decapitation, but try to upload an image of your tit and you’ll find yourself in trouble. Thankfully beheading videos are also no longer welcome.

Recover from a dead RAID0 with Bootsect and DiskPart – Recovering from a dead hard drive in a RAID0 configuration may require a little old-fashioned command line knowledge.


Hack turns Belkin baby monitor into iPhone-controlled bugging device – In August, Ars described how smartphone-controlled lighting systems from Philips could be commandeered by malicious websites to cause persistent blackouts. Now, the same researcher behind that hack has devised a new proof-of-concept attack. It turns a wireless baby monitor made by Belkin into a stealthy bugging device that can be accessed by someone in your front yard… or halfway around the world.

Apple Patches Fix More Than 100 Vulnerabilities – Apple fixed more than 100 security vulnerabilities across eight different products yesterday including updates for the iTunes, Safari, iOS 7, Keynote 6.0, two versions of Apple’s Remote Desktop (3.7, 3.5.4) and OS X Server 3.0.

Warning: The OS X Mavericks phishing scams have already begun – Mac users, are you excited to jump on your free Mavericks upgrade? Be aware that the scammers, spammers, and phishers out there are aware of the mass migration and geared to take advantage. The malicious emails have already begun.

Obamacare exchange contractors had past security lapses – Hackers exposed data on 123,000 people at one, another put personal data of 6 million Medicare beneficiaries at risk.

Arbor Networks, Google draw digital-attack map – Distributed Denial of Service attacks are increasing by leaps and bounds. Arbor Networks and Google make it possible for you to see just how bad it is.

Company News:

YouTube to launch on-demand music service this year, says sources – YouTube is reportedly planning on launching its own on-demand music service, something said to be similar to Spotify but with video tossed into the mix. Furthermore, there won’t be much of a wait for the service if the leak pans out, with the sources saying that the music service will launch sometime towards the end of this year.

Pinterest worth $3.8 billion after massive funding round – The pin-board company has collected $225 million in new financing, and has grown its value by $1.3 billion in the past eight months despite having virtually no revenue.

Microsoft reduces Surface Pro prices by another $100 – Microsoft has dropped prices across its Surface Pro range by another $100 – for the second time in under three months – with the 64GB model now priced at $699, rising to $999 for the 256GB version.

Samsung signs long-term deal with Gorilla Glass maker Corning – The agreement is part of a series of deals between Samsung’s Display unit and Corning. The latter is taking full control of the Samsung Corning Precision Materials joint venture in a deal valued at $1.9 billion. Samsung is also investing another $400 million in Corning.

Google breaks old promise by working on search banner ads – Google is testing banner ads in search results, apparently reneging on a 2005 promise by Marissa Mayer to never run them.

HP to jump aboard 3D printer market next summer – The 3D printing industry has been catching public attention in growing strides lately, and as the technology is refined, more uses for the technology has surfaced. HP has been long-involved in the printing industry as a whole, and as such it only makes sense that the company will be jumping aboard the 3D printing market with its own offering next year.

Games and Entertainment:

Kill hours dead with 8 horribly adorable, totally free Halloween games – There’s a lot to like about the last day in October, from scary movie marathons to haunted amusement parks. In honor of the most haunted holiday, I’ve been spending the witching hour playing some of the best Halloween-themed mobile games out there, and while they’re more adorable than horrible, they’re also a lot of fun.

Plants vs. Zombies 2 arrives for Android via Google Play – While iOS gamers have had their Plants vs. Zombies 2 fix for a little while now, Android users have been left hanging. Last month, sources surfaced saying that the wait would end some time this month, and though the powers that be hadn’t confirmed the rumor, the reality has come to fruition with the game’s launch in the Google Play Store, where it is free to download.

Dead Trigger 2 Launches on Android and iOS – Mobile developer Madfinger Games is known for the top shooter titles Shadowgun and Dead Trigger. Continuing that tradition, Madfinger is today releasing Dead Trigger 2 on iOS and Android as a free-to-play title with more zombie shooting than you can shake a shotgun at.

X-Com: Enemy Within impressions: Expanded alien eradication – After the X-Com series of strategy games wound down in the late ’90s, players had to wait well over a decade for the excellent 2012 reboot, X-Com: Enemy Unknown. Now, players have barely had to wait a year for more alien-attacking content from 2K Games in the form of the upcoming expansion X-Com: Enemy Within.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The free-OS revolution: What Apple’s Mavericks move means for Windows – While the low, low cost of $0 for Mavericks is certainly a welcome change from the (entirely reasonable) cost of past OS X upgrades, it’s not quite as revolutionary as Apple claims. Mobile operating systems have been free for years, and long before Apple’s Tuesday announcement, Microsoft made Windows 8.1 a free upgrade for Windows 8 users.

Apple’s free OS is no threat to Linux at all, says its creator – Apple’s move to offer its latest desktop operating system, OS X Mavericks, for free isn’t going to affect the Linux operating system at all, its creator Linus Torvalds said.

ICANN unveils first ever generic top-level domains in non-Latin characters – New generic top-level domains have been announced today by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, more commonly called ICANN, with a world’s first-ever: non-Latin character options. While none of them are yet available, a total of four additional options in three languages have been added, building upon the current, .com, .org, .net, and more offerings.

Balloon ride to the edge of space will cost $75,000 – The leisurely trip upward will take about two hours, reaching a maximum altitude of 18 miles (30km). That’s high enough to see the pitch black of space and the curvature of the Earth. Passengers on the World View Enterprises also won’t earn their semi-official astronaut wings — space is generally accepted to begin at an altitude of 62 miles.

Mac Pro “how it’s made” video details Apple factory process – Apple has released a two-minute video showing a picturesque overview of how it manufactures the Mac Pro 2013. The video takes viewers from the shell stamping through the circuit board printing to the final product.

Don’t trust a company on its word, trust it on its tech – Should we trust that LinkedIn won’t do anything bad when we give it our email account credentials? The better question is: Why on Earth are we even doing that in the first place?!

Something to think about:

And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that. All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

–     Lord Acton

Today’s Free Downloads:

SyMenu – SyMenu allows you to manage portable applications resident on a removable drive. SyMenu can be installed in pen drives, external USB disks, memory cards and even CDs and DVDs. Moreover SyMenu can automatically link any application residing on host pc. Any linked item (SyItem) can be organized in a hierarchical structure with colorful folders and found with the internal search tool.

CryptoPrevent 2.2 – A tiny utility to lock down any Windows OS to prevent infection by the Cryptolocker malware or ‘ransomware’, which encrypts personal files and then offers decryption for a paid ransom.

TestDisk & PhotoRec 7.0 – TestDisk is a powerful free data recovery software. It was primarily designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again when these symptoms are caused by faulty software, certain types of viruses or human error (such as accidentally deleting your Partition Table). PhotoRec is file data recovery software designed to recover lost files including video, documents and archives from Hard Disks and CDRom and lost pictures (thus, its ‘Photo Recovery’ name) from digital camera memory.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

EU Parliament votes to suspend data sharing deal with US – The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to suspend a major data sharing agreement with the U.S. following the ongoing scandal over alleged surveillance from the U.S. National Security Agency. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) narrowly adopted a resolution to suspend the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) with 280 votes in favor and 254 against.

Germany accuses US of spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone: White House: US “is not monitoring and will not monitor” her communications – The German magazine Der Spiegel reported Wednesday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly suspects her mobile phone has been under American surveillance “for years.” The magazine’s story, which did not provide any details, lists well-known American security researcher Jacob Appelbaum as the lead author. (Appelbaum currently lives in Berlin.)

Obama denies that US spied on German chancellor — or does he? – It’s an ever-growing pastime: reading between the lines of US statements about its surveillance programs. The latest episode has to do with the chancellor’s concerns that her cell phone was tapped.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper calls the French newspaper’s allegations “inaccurate and misleading” – The Director of National Intelligence has rebutted claims from a French newspaper that the NSA gathered more than 70 million recordings of phone calls from French citizens. The story prompted complaints from several French officials. French President Francois Hollande reportedly chastized US President Barack Obama about the revelations in a phone call late Monday. The White House did acknowledge that the reports do raise legitimate questions, especially in how the United States treats its friends and allies. But Clapper doesn’t quite see it the same way, at least based on his statement.

NSA spied on 125bn phone calls in one month – The US National Security Agency monitored nearly 125 billion phone calls from around the world in just one month, including around 3 billion calls from US soil, according to documents released by whistleblower Edward J. Snowden.

NSA lies? Agency lacks evidence it thwarted 54 terrorist attacks – Is the United States government’s use of broad surveillance authorities as effective of a counterterrorism tool as its advocates make it out to be? A new report suggests remarks made by high power figures to defend the spy powers are largely exaggerated.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 23, 2013

Eradicate Metro from your Windows 8.1 PC;  Don’t trust VPNs? Create your own;  Feds can’t GPS track without a warrant;  How to Download OS X Mavericks for Free;  Scammers Impersonate Police with Spoofed Caller ID;  India ransomware capital;  Advanced SystemCare 7 Beta 4.0; Guardian should be prosecuted, says Tory MP.

Don’t trust VPNs? Create your own with a friend and a browser extension – A browser extension being developed for Chrome and Firefox will let Web users create VPN-like connections to the Internet by routing all their traffic through a friend’s trusted connection. uProxy is being developed by the University of Washington and Brave New Software, with funding from Google Ideas. Chrome and Firefox are the first browsers it will come to. For now, it’s in a limited release and you can apply for access here.

Edward Snowden: public indifference is the real enemy in the NSA affair – Most people don’t seem to worry that government agencies are collecting their personal data. Is it ignorance or apathy?

Guardian’s animation team will bore you into caring about NSA – Yes, there’s a surveillance nightmare surrounding us; yes, it’s all so terrible. But that doesn’t mean we don’t care. However, to try and get us to expressly tell everyone how much we care, the Guardian has produced “The NSA files: how they affect you”. Warning: it is patronising.

How to eradicate Metro from your Windows 8.1 PC – Windows 8.1 packs some new settings that make it a snap to spend the majority of your time in the traditional desktop. With a few more tweaks and an extra program or two, you’ll be able to shun the modern UI almost completely, while still basking in the glow of Windows 8’s faster boot times, overhauled Task Manager, and other under-the-hood improvements. Desktop nirvana, here we come, step by glorious step.

Apple Introduces The iPad Air – Three years ago, Apple unveiled the original iPad, boxy and thick and heavy by comparison. Four iPads later, we’re here, welcoming the fifth generation iPad into the world. And boy is it a beauty! You’ve been waiting long enough, through a summer of rumors, so let’s just get right down to business on the new Apple tablet.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Mavericks: An operating system in pictures – Apple’s latest OS arrived on Macs today… for free – Today Apple announced that its long-anticipated operating system, OS X 10.9 Mavericks, would be available from the Mac App Store for free. The OS brings solid multi-monitor support, tabbed finder windows, and under-the-hood tweaks to operating efficiency. It also removes some of the skeuomorphic flourishes that have irked users in the past.

How to Download OS X Mavericks for Free – Apple has officially released its latest operating system, OS X Mavericks for free. Mac users can install it immediately. Here’s what you need to know and how to get it.

What you need to know about Apple’s free apps policy – Apple made waves during Tuesday’s media event when the company announced that its iLife and iWork suite would be free for customers who buy a new Mac or iOS device. But the apps are also free for users who already have the apps installed, and one app is free, period. Here’s our guide to demystifying Apple’s new pricing structure on its iLife and iWork apps.

Meandering child? Why not put a GPS on ’em? – Wonder Technology Solutions comes up with a miniature GPS locator for children and pets. Sorry, it’s still not small enough for cats.

4 Apps to Help You with What to Wear – Ever stood looking into your closet and felt like you have nothing to wear? Inspiration can come from a reorganization of your closet–I’ve found sorting by color can be an eye-opening experience–and tapping into one of the following apps.

10 IaaS providers who provide free cloud resources – If you’re still new to cloud technology, but interested in seeing what it’s all about, there’s no better way to learn than taking some of the cloud services for a spin. Fortunately, you can get a pretty good demo for free before you go all-in. Sample these ten tasty IaaS treats for free. You give these cloud providers some details and they give you free stuff.

Sharp puts a touch screen in a chopping board – The Chop-Syc is a prototype high-tech chopping board with an embedded touch screen tablet and built-in scale.

Handwriting support hits Gmail, Google Docs – Gmail and Google Docs now can handle handwriting input in dozens of languages, even if you don’t have a touch screen.


Appellate court: Nope, feds can’t just GPS track your car without a warrant – The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has handed down a huge decision in favor of privacy rights in America. On Tuesday, the court confirmed in United States v. Katzin (PDF) that federal authorities must get a probable cause-driven warrant before attaching a GPS tracking device on a suspect’s car.

Aaron’s computer rental chain settles FTC spying charges – The rent-to-own computer company settles a complaint that accused it of secretly taking Webcam photos of users in their homes and recording keystrokes of Web site login credentials. (So, here’s my question – WHY aren’t the criminal executives of this trash company behind bars?)

Scammers Impersonate Police with Spoofed Caller ID – Scammers have a new disguise just in time for Halloween. Con artists are taking advantage of caller ID spoofing technology to pose as local sheriff’s offices. They are calling residents and demanding they pay nonexistent fines.

GTA V for PC torrent is 18GB of malware – The torrent is 18GB in size, which just makes it look more legitimate because GTA V is a big game. What’s worse is the fact the installation process looks quite legitimate for the most part, however, while those stupid enough to download it think they are getting the game, instead their machine is being infected.

India ‘ransomware capital’ of APAC, with cyberfraud at $4B in 2013 – The country had 11 percent of cybercrime victims falling to this form of virtual extortion and saw an 8 percent rise in average cost per victim to US$207, according to the 2013 Norton Report.

Top three indicators of compromised web servers – Web servers are a popular target for attackers, and the number of servers, frameworks, and web apps can make it difficult to recognize where the threats are. Here are some common indicators.

Application-layer DDoS attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated – The number of DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks that target weak spots in Web applications in addition to network services has risen during the past year and attackers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to bypass defenses, according to DDoS mitigation experts.

Company News:

Google buys Flexycore, creator of a “10x speed boost” app for Android – French site L’Expansion is reporting that Google has completed a year-long acquisition of the company Flexycore. Flexycore’s most prominent product is “droidbooster,” an app that claimed to make an Android device run “ten times faster.”

Apple’s Tim Cook claims competition (Microsoft) is “confused” about PCs – Apple CEO Tim Cook took Microsoft, without naming names, to task during the company’s press conference today, claiming that the competition is “confused” when it comes to supporting new hardware.

LG launches Firefox phone in Brazil – Two Firefox OS phones went on sale on Tuesday in Brazil, a country on which Mozilla has been pinning many of its Firefox OS hopes. In addition to the Alcatel One Touch Fire, already the de facto flagship device for the nascent operating system since it’s available in most countries that offer Firefox phones, Brazil gets the higher-end LG Fireweb.

Report: Microsoft testing Google Glass competitor – According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is deploying prototype Google Glass-style eyewear to testers as part of a positioning effort in the wearable computing market. The information comes from “people familiar with the matter,” which is generally journalism code for people directly involved with the topic at hand who wish to remain anonymous.

Nokia Bags Instagram, Vine and More for Windows Phone – Along with its new phablet, Nokia announced that some very eagerly awaited apps will be coming to Windows Phone soon.

Amazon announces ten-dollar increase to free-shipping minimum – Amazon raised its free shipping minimum on Tuesday from $25 to $35. You won’t find this change telegraphed on the main page next to the Kindle. In fact, it’s kind of hard to find at all. But it’s there, hidden in the depths. “Amazon’s minimum order size for free shipping has changed to $35.

Twitter secures $1 billion credit line ahead of its IPO – Line of credit will help the social network cover unforeseen expenses should its trading debut be delayed.

Games and Entertainment:

Gaming Mice Roundup 2013: Corsair, Steelseries, Gigabyte, Logitech and Razer – Shifting from a standard office mouse to something more appropriate for gaming is worthwhile if you care about your performance, but investing $60 or more in handful of plastic might seem silly if you’ve never experienced the realm of difference a proper mouse can make. Taking that plunge isn’t any easier these days considering how many major manufacturers have entered the ever-expanding arena.

Power-Grid Offers Real-Time PC Stats and Control From Your Mobile Device – When you’re heavily into a gaming session you can’t always check in on the status of your hardware or mess with settings. That’s where the new Power-Grid app comes in. With the connector app, you can control your PC and pipe system stats in real time over to your iPhone or Android device.

Titanfall falls on March 11, 2014 for Xbox One, PC, and Xbox 360 – Publisher Electronic Arts announced today that Titanfall, the highly anticipated hybrid first-person shooter and mech-combat game from Respawn Entertainment, will be available in North America on March 11, 2014 with a European launch two days later.

One month before launch, there are still things we don’t know about the Xbox One – One month from today, Microsoft will launch the Xbox One in 13 markets, but there are still some questions that have yet to be answered about the next generation game console.

Angry Birds Friends update brings new Halloween tournament – With Halloween coming up fast, Rovio has gotten into the holiday spirit, and is pushing out an Angry Birds Friends update that brings along a spooky-specific Halloween theme. In addition, starting tomorrow a new Halloween Tournament will be launched, bringing with it some gaming particulars that last for one week.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How the internet is breaking journalism (and what it means to you) – When it comes to journalism and other information that you read on the internet, there’s a very strong argument that things are seriously broken. The result is that we all need to be more vigilant than ever to separate the truth from falsehood and recognize what’s important as opposed to what’s popular.

Activists, U.N. take aim at ‘killer robots’ – International effort to outlaw or limit fully autonomous, weaponized robots is launched at the United Nations.

Nokero launches $6 solar bulb for off-grid users – Those who use kerosene as a source of light at night face the danger of fumes and fire. Lighting startup Nokero has launched what it calls the world’s most affordable solar bulb, the N180-Start, which sells for $6 on its Web site. The bulb has a 5-lumen LED that can shine for about four hours on a full charge after hanging outside in the sun.

NASA says first space Internet test ‘beyond expectations’ – NASA scientists say the first tests of what could someday become an outer space Internet have far surpassed their expectations. With the tests already going so well, NASA is encouraged that a laser communications system could be the building blocks of an outer space Internet.

The Biggest Facebook Fails – Facebook’s decision to lift the ban on beheading videos is just one of many fails by the company and some of its users.

Here’s why new car tech is four years out of date – Think you can upgrade your car’s hardware? Not anytime soon.

Something to think about:

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

–     Mahatma Gandhi

Today’s Free Downloads:

Macrium Reflect FREE Edition 5.2.6427 – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.

Advanced SystemCare 7 Beta 4.0 – Slow down, freeze, crash and security threats are over. Advanced SystemCare Free is a comprehensive PC care utility that takes an one-click approach to help protect, repair and optimize your computer. This is only for those comfortable with beta testing software.

Remote Desktop Manager – Remote Desktop Manager is a small application used to manage all your remote connections. Add, edit, delete, organize or find your remote connection quickly. Compatible with Microsoft Remote Desktop, Terminal Services, VNC, LogMeIn and Team Viewer, Ftp, SSH, Telnet and more.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Wikipedia: 2013 mass surveillance disclosures – The 2013 mass surveillance disclosures refer to a slew of media reports which revealed operational details of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its international partners’ mass surveillance of foreign nationals as well as US citizens. The series of reports emanated from a cache of top secret NSA documents leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Is French outrage against U.S. spying misplaced? – The anger expressed by French officials following revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency gathered data on millions of phone calls involving French citizens appears misplaced considering reports of the country’s own record of domestic and international surveillance. (Pot – meet Kettle!)

Bills Offer Clear Choice: End Bulk Collection of Americans’ Data or Endorse It – Members of Congress are responding to the NSA surveillance scandal with two new bills that go in very different directions. The Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act offered by Senator Wyden – as well as legislation that will soon be introduced by Senator Leahy and Representative Sensenbrenner – would balance civil liberties and security by requiring that information collected pertains to an agent of foreign power, which would effectively end the bulk collection program. In contrast, Senators Feinstein and Chambliss are drafting legislation that would codify bulk collection, with only minimal concessions to privacy rights.

Edward Snowden NSA files: Guardian should be prosecuted, says Tory MP – Several MPs criticised the format of the parliamentary debate as they were denied an opportunity to intervene while Smith read out his speech and then the Home Office minister James Brokenshire gave the government’s view that the Guardian’s publication of the Snowden leaks had damaged national security. (Obviously a twit who views complex issues through his rectum. Just another example of an intellectually deficient politician.)

Obama calls French president over NSA spying report – President Obama called French President Francois Hollande on Monday to discuss a report that the National Security Agency (NSA) gained access to the phone records of over 70 million French citizens over a 30-day period. Obama told Hollande that the United States is reviewing its intelligence-gathering to ensure a balance between security and privacy. The White House said both presidents agreed they should continue diplomatic discussions about the issue.


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