Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 14, 2013

Must-Have Software for a New PC;  When Facebook Gets Creepy;  Ubuntu 13.10 Review;  Stretch Microsoft’s Office 2013 free trial;  The many security problems of ATMs;  12 PC games best played solo;  Entrapped! When Craigslist predator stings go too far.

Must-Have Software for a New PC – Whether it’s for home or office, this is the software you should install to get most from your new hardware. We’ve covered the gamut in this list, including your new browser, modern communications, high-security tools, performance-enhancing utilities, entertainment necessities, an image editor, a tech-support helper, and of course, a full office suite to get you through the work day.

When Facebook Gets Creepy – Facebook knows when you’re sleeping, it knows when you’re awake, so be good for goodness sake. As a Facebook user, you may not even realize what you’re sharing and with whom. To see whose radar you might be showing up on thanks to your Facebook profile, check out the slideshow.

The Endgame for Google+ Is Turning You into Ads – Starting November 11, Google will launch a new kind of advertisement, called “shared endorsements,” that ties into users’ Google+ activity. For example, if you review a restaurant on Google+ Local, your name, photo and a snippet of the review could show up when people search for that restaurant. If you give a “+1″ to a product you like, that too could become ad fodder.

Infographic: Debunking myths about remote access technology – This infographic, courtesy of HOB Secure Business Connectivity, explains how VPNs are much improved from the past and offer the best way to provide anytime/anywhere access to resources for employees.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to check memory usage of Chrome extensions – If your Chrome Web browser is dragging, it’s probably due to an extension hogging all of your memory. Read on to learn how to see which extensions are memory-hogging culprits and how to find alternatives.

Windows 8 users have two years to update to Windows 8.1 before support ends – Microsoft is giving people who have Windows 8 installed on their PCs two years to upgrade to Windows 8.1 after it launches next week before official support for Windows 8 ends. If you do decide to upgrade to Windows 8.1, Microsoft will continue to support the OS under its main support lifecycle time period, with mainstream support ending on January 9th, 2018 and extended support continuing until January 10th, 2023.

Ubuntu 13.10 Review: A great Linux desktop gets better – Ubuntu 13.10 may not be the most exciting desktop Linux, but it is very solid and contains many useful new features.

Five utilities for a better Google Earth – Google Earth is being used for everything from plotting demographic data to video production, and there are a number of add-on apps available.

Tips to conserve your laptop’s battery – There are simple steps you can take to extend your laptop’s battery life, such as lowering your screen brightness and turning off the backlit keyboard.

How to stretch Microsoft’s Office 2013 free trial offer – Perhaps you’re a student who only needs Microsoft Office for a limited time. Maybe you want to kick the tires on Microsoft’s office suite for more than 30 days or just don’t want to plunk down the money for it yet. Here’s a way to extend the free trial period for Microsoft Office so you can get the full features without paying for it (for at least 180 days).

Microsoft reveals IE11 features to assist blind and visually impaired users – Microsoft has revealed some new features in Internet Explorer 11 that are designed to assist blind and visually impaired users, including some improvements for editing emails and online documents.

Microsoft lets people verify their Bing Personal Snapshots identities – Microsoft is now allowing people who have their online personas listed under Bing Personal Snapshots to verify their identities, in a partnership with the Klout service.


It is time to start thinking of your car as another mobile device – But those handheld devices also expose users to risks like the loss of assets and/or confidential information. Which raises the obvious question: If the best security available can’t protect your smartphone, how is it going to protect you in your car?

Top sites (and maybe the NSA) track users with “device fingerprinting” – Close to 1.5 percent of the Internet’s top websites track users without their knowledge or consent, even when visitors have enabled their browser’s Do Not Track option, according to an academic research paper that raises new questions and concerns about online privacy.

Stanford says smartphone accelerometers can be silently tracked – Researchers at the Stanford Security Laboratory have discovered a series of security vulnerabilities in the sensor arrays endemic to most smartphones. They found that accelerometers, speakers and microphones can all be uniquely identified with specific devices, functioning the same way cookies do except they cannot currently be turned off.

The many security problems of ATMs – If the power cord for the machine is reachable, an ATM can easily be unplugged and plugged in again in order to make it reboot and show which OS is running. More often than not, it is Windows XP, and usually unpatched. In fact, Hoopes discovered that many ATMs are still vulnerable to years-old flaws that have been patched by Microsoft ages ago. Obviously, the technicians have installed the OS when the machine was put into use, and haven’t touched them since.

Does Trend Micro Have 20/20 Vision of the Future? – Trend Micro rolls out its web-series “2020,” depicting a technology-dependent country in chaos after being attacked by an evil cybercriminal.

Video (53:55): DIY Command & Control for fun and no profit – This mainly hands-on video from DerbyCon will walk you through a very dark corner of the Internet and provide a glimpse of the daily life of a cybercriminal. Live malware will be used during this presentation so make sure you turn off your Wi-Fi.

Company News:

To reduce its tax burden, Google expands use of the “Double Irish” – Google is moving even more money through a shell corporation in Bermuda—reaching a total of €8.8 billion ($11.91 billion) in 2012, 25 percent more than it did in 2011. By employing a legal yet ethically questionable practice, Google is saving itself billions in taxes worldwide.

Netflix Reportedly In Negotiations With U.S. Cable TV Providers – Netflix is in the early stages of negotiating with U.S. cable providers to make its online streaming video service available as an app through their set-top boxes, says a Wall Street Journal report. If a deal goes through, it will mark a major victory for Netflix, signifying that it has changed viewer habits so much that cable TV operators can no longer afford to ignore it.

HP gets serious about Android and Chrome – Hewlett-Packard saw the future this week, and that future has more and more Android and Chrome devices in it.

Games and Entertainment:

12 PC games best played solo – Nothing against your friends, but it’s easier to immerse yourself when there’s no one screaming into your headset. Try it and you’ll see.

ARM demonstrates how it crushes Intel when gaming on mobile devices – With OEMs increasingly stacking the deck when it comes to benchmarks, ARM decided to do a real world comparison of its Cortex-based chips with Intel’s x86 mobile chip.The results make for an interesting (and snippy) three minute YouTube video that shows ARM winning by a pretty wide margin.

Germany bans sales of Xbox One exclusive launch game Dead Rising 3 – The German government has banned domestic sales of Dead Rising 3, leaving gamers there unable to order the open-world zombie game, which will be an exclusive Xbox One launch title in other markets. The decision is not a huge shock; Germany also banned the sale of the first two games in the Dead Rising series.

Valve shows off Steam Controller playing games in new video – Valve has posted the first video showing how its prototype Steam Controller can be used to play a number of PC games, including Portal 2, Civilization V and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Calvin and Hobbes documentary “Dear Mr. Watterson” comes out Nov. 15 – A Kickstarter-funded documentary, Dear Mr. Watterson, is scheduled to be released Nov. 15, 2013, about 28 years since the debut of its subject matter, the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. The documentary will be in theaters as well as available for digital download, DVD, and Blu-ray.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Entrapped! When Craigslist predator stings go too far – Everyone thinks they’ve been “entrapped” by police, but some men actually are.

Science proves definitively that modern movies suck – According to a recent study published in Nature Scientific Reports the more modern a movie is, the less creative it is, as well. Oh well, there’s always video-games.

Billy Cote – Illinois farmer David Johnson built a 31-foot tower in Findlay, Ill., for his 34 Saanen milk goats. “Goats love it, and people driving by can’t believe it,” Johnson told Farm Show magazine. “Goats are the most curious animals in the world, so they use the tower a lot. They come and go, passing each other on the ramp as needed. (suggested by Michael F.)

10 incredible microscopic GIFs – Thanks to the wonder of science, we can dive into a completely alien world and see how microscopic beasties get along.

Speaker specifications: A consumer guide – The Audiophiliac and speaker designer Andrew Jones decipher speaker specifications for the average buyer.

Stanford scientists use 3D imaging to reevaluate Earth core formation – Scientists at Stanford University have demonstrated how the formation of Earth’s core is even more complicated than previously understood. Using new 3D imaging techniques, the scientists used a pair of diamonds to squeeze molten metal through rocks under pressure, showing that iron can be squeezed out of rocky silicates deep beneath the surface of the planet.

Shouts And Murmurations – It seems like a simple question. And indeed, there is a simple answer: So that people can express themselves regarding the topic or article to which the comment section is appended, or peruse the expressions of others. But that’s not exactly correct. True, that is what comment sections are for, but why do we have them?

Something to think about:

The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.”

–    David Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

DVDVideoSoft Free Video to JPG Converter – Extract frames from video files to JPG files with one mouse click. It is an ideal tool to make photo galeries from your home video. You can extract for example every hundredth video frame or frames in every 10 seconds. Very fast and easy.

Simply Slideshow 1.1.62 – Simply Slideshow is a simple application that enables users to display images in Pan & Zoom effects with numerous options. Unlike other slideshow software, “Simply Slideshow” is very flexible and very high performance. Users can add folders or files to either play the slideshow in sequence or in random order and start the slideshow immediately without delay even with tens of thousands of pictures.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Brazil seeks to secure own emails amid US spy allegations – Brazil is moving to create a more secure form of email communications, with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff revealing the order over Twitter. Rousseff said (translated from Portuguese) that the nation’s data processing company, Serpro, would be responsible for ensuring that emails sent throughout the federal government would be secure, private, free from any possible espionage, and ensure the “inviolability of official messages”.

Skype under investigation over NSA links – Video calling service Skype is under investigation in Luxembourg after claims it supplied data to the National Security Agency. The company faces harsh EU criminal and administrative sanctions.

FISC approves phone metadata collection yet again – Program continues despite unwanted publicity – The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has once again approved the blanket collection of telephony metadata from American phone companies. The previous order authorizing the collection of the information expired yesterday. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has published a press release disclosing that the court has approved the government’s request to re-authorize collection and continue the program.

DoJ: If we can track one American, we can track all Americans – Defendant is one of the few convicted using NSA’s phone surveillance program. Seven months after his conviction, Basaaly Moalin’s defense attorney moved for a new trial (PDF), arguing that evidence collected about him under the government’s recently disclosed dragnet telephone surveillance program violated his constitutional and statutory rights. Moalin’s is the only thwarted “terrorist plot” against America that the government says also “critically” relied on the National Security Agency phone surveillance program, conducted under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Europe won’t save you: Why e-mail is probably safer in the US – The Lavabit case is the best known example of a company willing to go to extreme lengths in order to protect its customers’ privacy. Since Lavabit has fallen (as has Silent Circle’s Silent Mail service), many journalists and business people have speculated that foreign e-mail providers might have policies that would theoretically be more resistant to government intrusion, particularly in Europe and especially in Germany and Switzerland, which have strong data protection and privacy laws. But a closer look at German law in particular reveals that a German e-mail provider certainly wouldn’t offer more protection—and would likely offer less—than a similar American e-mail provider.

Post reporter: Here’s why we refused the NSA’s demand to censor the names of PRISM – Barton Gellman, the Washington Post reporter who broke the news of the NSA online content collection program PRISM, says the government asked him to suppress the names of the nine companies participating in the program.

Edward Snowden Whistleblower Award reception video released by WikiLeaks – WikiLeaks has posted six videos of former NSA analyst Edward Snowden receiving the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence on Oct. 9, 2013. The appearance is one of very few for Snowden after leaking classified documents about US and UK mass spying programs in May.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

5 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 14, 2013

  1. Don

    Re: Security problems with ATM’s .. a completely useless article! For example, I access my bank’s ATM which is housed securely in the wall, surrounded by steel. How would I be able to access either the power cord or the network plug? It made no mention of card readers or other devious methods of compromising the ATM. Even a 3rd party ATM such as those located in variety stores, restaurants, etc. have no such access! C’mon now, I only have a high school education, but really, give me something with substance please.

    • Hi Don,

      Hardly useless – it makes a number of points often overlooked.

      Granted, your experience is as you describe. Though I can assure you, it is not my overall experience. Within blocks of my residence for example, there are two convenience store ATMs with “staring you in the face” power cord access. So while your experience has been as you laid out, it is not definitive.

      Moreover, this site was read last year in over 200 countries – and, while best practices may be the standard where you live, that’s not always the case elsewhere.

      Thanks for commenting. It’s appreciated.