Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 9, 2013

10 tips for securing your smartphoneFree secure messaging app;  Six High-Tech Halloween Gadgets;  Guide to the paperless office;  Microsoft patches 28 vulnerabilities;  Avira, AVG, WhatsApp sites defaced;  Five great games like Minecraft.  

10 tips for securing your smartphone – This month is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Each week within October will take on a different theme, with this week’s being ‘Mobile’. So, with that in mind, we thought we’d prepare some tips to help keep your smartphone safe.

What if Facebook stole your identity? – No one company (and possibly no government) has ever had the power to shut off an individual’s personal connections as Facebook does today.

Skype for Android updated to 4.4; brings new UI design to tablets – Skype has released a new version of its Android app, 4.4, that brings the recently launched new UI design to Android based tablets for the first time, including the new Kindle Fire HDX tablets.

No Google Account? No problem viewing shared Apps documents, now – Until now, Apps customers could only grant document access to users with a Google Account. People who didn’t have an account or who weren’t logged in to their account couldn’t get into the documents even when invited to do so via an emailed link from an Apps user. That will no longer be the case, Google said on Monday.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Free secure messaging app from Carnegie Mellon researchers – Carnegie Mellon University CyLab researchers have developed a free smartphone app for iOS and Android users to safely exchange identity data without risk of theft, deception and fraud.

AT&T’s Filip is a smartwatch for kids that lets parents spy on them – AT&T announced a new smart device that goes on the wrist today, but it’s not the Galaxy Gear. This is the Filip, a pseudo-smartwatch for kids that parents can use to keep tabs on their offspring with an unparalleled level of accuracy. This device acts as a phone, GPS tracker, and a panic button all in one somewhat awkward package.

8 iPad Apps to Help Your Child Become a Better Reader – The iPad has been a great tool for education since it debuted in 2010, thanks in large part to an abundance of apps and games that blend information with entertainment. It’s also been a great tool for teaching children to become better readers. There are many apps available that parents can use to help their kids improve their reading skills significantly, whether they’re just starting out or brushing up on some basics. Here are some of the best.

Six High-Tech Halloween Gadgets – If you haven’t noticed the Halloween candy displays lining store aisles, it’s our responsibility to inform you that it’s October, which means Halloween is just around the corner. For holiday enthusiasts, that means it’s time to start getting ready for trick-or-treat season and decking the halls for the spooky occasion. We’ve collected six high-tech tools to help you prep your home for plenty of Halloween fun.

Red Cross Suggests Video Games Punish War Crimes – The Red Cross stressed that the only games it wants to see affected are realistic war games so “medieval fantasy” and “futuristic wars in outer space” are safe. It also offers these same services to movies and books that deal with war all while keeping actual global safety its top priority.

Researcher Says Linking Video Games to Gun Violence Is a ‘Classic Illusory Correlation’ – Wouldn’t it be easy if everything people thought was true was true? Aliens — they live among us! If you don’t forward that chain letter to 10 people — you’re dead! if you say Candyman three times into a mirror — also dead! If you play games where you shoot people — you’re going to really want to shoot people!

Five Web-based Apps to help you visualize big data – With only a web browser, you have the means to visualize collected data in an interactive form that will allow you to apply the results.

Wi-MM Bike+ tracks your bike through the cloud – Built in partnership with Verizon’s Innovation Center in San Francisco, Wi-MM – “Wireless Machine-to-Machine”, and not to be confused with the Google-acquired smartwatch company WIMM – plans to strap a combination GPS and 3G-enabled adapter to your bike’s crossbar, initially integrated into a water bottle holder, which constantly pings its position to the cloud.

Mozilla fills feature gaps with Firefox OS 1.1 release – Among additions to the new browser-based OS are support for MMS, keyboard autocorrect, and a home screen that makes it easier to find apps.

Ultimate guide to the paperless office – We’re not exactly a paperless society yet, but this guide will help you get to less paper, and that’s a step in several right directions: increased efficiency, better security, and a reduced environmental footprint. We’ve also added a few ways to eliminate paper from your workflow, the better to declutter your office—and your mind.

Yahoo! Mail gets new design and features; launches Yahoo! Ad Free Mail for $49.99 a year – Yahoo! is rolling out a new desktop design for its email service, which includes a way to view groups of emails as a conversation and more. Yahoo! is also launching Yahoo! Ad Free Mail for $49 a year.

Nest Protect smart smoke detector packs WiFi – Aiming to do the same for home safety as the original Nest does for HVAC control, the Nest Protect tracks potential perils, warns you with both an spoken audio alert and pings to your iOS or Android device, and even notifies other Nest equipment so that they can respond too.

New chip said to boost thumb drive performance up to 50% – The new SM3267 integrated controller Technology Monday announced it has begun shipping samples of a new USB 3.0 controller chip for flash drives that could boost performance by up to 50%.

How to make Chrome’s omnibox return only search suggestions – Enter a single character before entering a word or phrase in Chrome’s omnibox, and you’ll strip out browsing history and bookmark suggestions, leaving you with a clean list of suggested search terms.


Microsoft patches 28 vulnerabilities, including zero-day – October’s patches are described in eight bulletins and address problems in Windows, Office, SharePoint Server, Silverlight, and Internet Explorer. One of the IE bugs has been exploited in the wild for some time now.

Avira, AVG, WhatsApp sites defaced by Palestinian hacktivists – The websites of antivirus vendors Avira and AVG, as well as that of popular IM service WhatsApp, have been defaced by Palestinian hackers affiliated with Anonymous that go by the name “KDMS Team”. The hackers’ aim seems to be to simply bring attention to the plight of Palestinians and, as has been confirmed, the Avira defacement was not a result of website hacking but that of the company’s ISP Network Solutions.

Hijacking of AV firms’ websites may be linked to hack on Network Solutions – At least three high-profile websites that receive services from Network Solutions have been hijacked in recent days in attacks that are prompting speculation that the compromises are the result of a security lapse inside the popular domain registrar and Web host.

Adobe patches critical Acrobat, Reader flaw – A critical vulnerability in Acrobat and Reader 11.x for Windows has been patched. Adobe calls it a critical regression error.

Changes to Google Chrome and Chrome OS certificate handling – Beefed up requirements for RSA keys and changes to the way Google Chrome handles certificates will benefit Internet security for end users.

Company News:

Microsoft to launch new remote desktop apps for iOS, Android – Is Microsoft about to go to war with its long-time virtualization partner Citrix? It sure looks that way, given the imminent arrival of new Microsoft remote desktop apps for iOS, Android, and OS X.

Amazon challenges PayPal with ‘Login and Pay’ one-click option – From the customer side, the advantage is being able to pay virtually instantly with all of the billing and shipping data being filled in by Amazon.

Microsoft: 5.5 million downloads of Visual Studio 2012 since launch – Microsoft has announced that Visual Studio 2012 has been downloaded 5.5 million times since it launched over a year ago, making it the most downloaded version of the company’s dev tools ever.

Games and Entertainment:

Five great games like Minecraft – Minecraft may be the most popular game to have ever come from the voxel-based genre that it invented, but it is far from the only game out there offering block-building fun. We took a look at some of the lesser known but still incredibly fun games like Minecraft, and broke it down for you to check out for yourself.

Pokemon X and Pokemon Y arrive on Nintendo 3DS October 12 – Way back in early January, Nintendo teased 3DS owners with some teaser content for Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, promising that it would arrive for the console later this autumn. Such a time has come around, with the Japanese company updating their announcement with a solid date — this coming Saturday, October 12. The installments will also be arriving for the Nintendo 2DS, which launches on the same date.

New video shows first 5 minutes of ‘BioShock Infinite: Buried at Sea’ DLC – Irrational Games has released a video showing the first five minutes of its upcoming “BioShock Infinite” expansion that takes players back to Rapture, the location of the original “BioShock.”

Universum: War Front is a game you won’t believe was created by one man – Take a quick look at the gallery of images above, and then take the time to watch the Kickstarter video below. I think you’ll agree that as a game, Universum: War Front looks stunning. But what’s incredible about this project is the fact it has been made by just one guy acting as programmer, artist, animator, and game designer.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Exxon, National Enquirer more deeply loved than Apple? – A survey from ad agency Y&R claims to measure deep-seated emotions. It suggests that brands you mightn’t imagine — yes, like Facebook — enjoy far more inner-affection than Apple and Google.

12 Shocking Sex Facts – Masters and Johnson revolutionized sex research in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Here what we’re learning about sex now.

Still have to write that thank-you note? Pay a robot to do it for you – Bond Gifts has hired a handwriting robot to create custom cards via an app. For $5, the company will have the robot write up to a 255-character message on a gold-embossed card that will be sealed with wax and mailed to the intended recipient. It could serve as a slightly more expensive and less flexible replacement for iOS’ Cards app, which used to send a custom-printed card for $3 domestically but was discontinued last month.

Spaniards are less productive, tired because Spain is in the wrong time zone – Spain sits in the middle of the Western European time zone, to which Portugal, Morocco and the U.K. also belong. But because of a weird twist of history, it actually observes Central European time, running an hour ahead of daylight. That might sound like no big deal to Americans, who switch their clocks twice a year anyway — but there’s a growing body of evidence that it’s really hurting the Spanish, contributing to everything from low worker productivity to a persistent gender gap.

Study: Most CEOs lack vision and leadership with cutting-edge computer tech – A majority of CEOs are failing to steer their companies towards effective use of new computer technologies, which precludes their organizations from making major business improvements.

Something to think about:

“Use soft words and hard arguments.”

–     English Proverb

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android 3.0.6351 – Protect your Android phone and tablet with the top-rated free mobile security app with both antivirus and anti-theft. avast! Mobile Security keeps your device safe from viruses, malware, and spyware. It helps you locate your lost phone through our web-based phone locate feature. Remote device lock and/or memory wipe in its advanced Anti-Theft component keep your data safe. Handy tools like network meter, app manager, and even firewall (on rooted phones) give you complete control of your mobile phone. Rated 4.7 of 5 stars in Google Play store!

Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Android 1.1.177 – Bitdefender’s Antivirus Free is a powerful and fast solution that uses in-the-cloud scanning technology to arm your Android device with the very latest industry leading virus detection. Without slowing down your Android or draining your battery. Simply install on your Android and it’s ready to go—nothing to configure.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Guardian’s hub for all Edward Snowden, NSA and GCHQ-related developments around the world: NSA’s Keith Alexander calls for more surveillance – In the US, Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, also made a speech on Tuesday. According to the Daily Dot, Alexander “indicated that far from backing off on surveillance, the NSA ought to do more of it” – starting with action to prevent cyberattacks on the financial sector.

Freedom Of Information Requests At The NSA Are Up 1,054% Year-Over-Year – The gist is simple: Far, far more people are asking questions of the NSA in the wake of the Snowden leaks, and the increase in requests is not hard to explain. We can now ask better questions, because we know more about the NSA’s activities and what form they take. We can ask about phone metadata programs, the tapping of the core fiber cables that make up the Internet’s spine, and about PRISM and other programs that force data from the servers of public and private companies. A little information here goes a long way, and we have far more than a little information.

Campaigners crowdfund bid to take UK to human rights court over Prism spying – Privacy groups have raised £25,000 ($40,200) to take the U.K. government to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over its use of Internet and telecommunications networks to systematically spy on its citizens. The action is supported by the U.K. based groups Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group and English PEN as well as by the German Internet campaigner Constanze Kurz. They decided to take the government to the ECHR after recent disclosures that it routinely taps, stores and sifts through the Internet data of British citizens using the U.S. Prism program and its own Tempora program.

NSA data center ‘meltdowns’ force year-long delay – The facility has suffered 10 “meltdowns” in the past 13 months that destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of machinery, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing project documents and unnamed officials.

India among NSA’s favorite surveillance targets, latest Snowden disclosure reveals – The US National Security Agency regularly collected information and intercepted communication in India despite the friendly relationship between the two nations, according to newly disclosed documents by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The NSA used at least two major programs to monitor communication in India: Boundless Informant, which records the number of phone calls and emails made over a certain time span, and PRISM, employed to intercept and collect actual data content from telecommunication networks.


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