Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 16, 2013

Avast! Free Edition 2014 – avast! antivirus now also comes with a completely revamped user interface for easier scanning. avast! Pro antivirus offers a number of additional features, including a script shield and a process virtualization module, while avast! Internet Security comes with an antispam filter and built-in firewall. Once installed, avast! runs silently in the background to protect your computer against all known forms of malware. You don’t need to do anything else – just install and forget!

Installing avast! 2014 Free – Regular reader and super contributor here, Bob3160, has crafted a step-by-step tutorial on installing what is arguably the best free AV available. Highly recommended.

11 Avast Free Antivirus 2014 tips to get you started – The following guide provides you with tips on how to get the most out of the free antivirus solution. This includes the best way to download and install it, and several configuration tips to improve the program’s usability or get rid of features that you may not need or want. (recommended by Michael F.)

Security to go: Three tips to keep your mobile data safe – Data security is never easy, and security with mobile devices—smartphones, tablets, and, of course, laptops—is no exception. But you can take a few steps to meaningfully improve your mobile security. Join me as we walk through three of the best strategies. (Note: Click on the smaller images below, to enlarge them.)

Square Cash lets anyone send money by e-mail — for free – First launched as an invite-only beta, Square Cash is now available to everyone. The free service lets anyone send and receive cash simply by sending an e-mail, no account required.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

What to do when your free cloud storage fills up – Before you start uploading your entire digital life into sky storage, let’s take a closer look at how SkyDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox deal with your files after their promotional plans expire. The cloud can turn mighty dark indeed when your time is up.

Microsoft expands Office 365 ProPlus to students for free – The new program is called Student Advantage, and Microsoft’s press release states that it will let students access Office 365 ProPlus for free if their educational institution has already signed up to use it or or Office Professional Plus for its faculty and staff.

Catching Up With Quick Key, The App That Helps Teachers Grade Faster And Better – Back in February, we wrote about a smartphone app for school teachers called Quick Key, the low-fi demo video that had just gone viral. The app’s optical scanner quickly grades SAT-style bubble answer sheets, uploads the results to teachers’ electronic grade books, and runs analytics on the data.

Intel says get ready for $99 tablets, $299 Haswell notebooks, $349 2-in-1 hybrids – Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich says that he expects OEMs to push prices down over the coming weeks, and that this will result in $99 tablets, $299 Haswell laptops, and $349 2-in-1 hybrid tablets and notebooks.

iMac vs. a comparable Windows box: The TCO lowdown – Erik Eckel explores the true cost differential between a Mac desktop and an equivalent Windows business-class all-in-one computer.

White Noise Lite is a mobile sound machine for Android – Wish you had a sound machine on your vacation to make getting to sleep easier and more peaceful? Tired of listening to random office noises? Try this app to keep calm and carry on.

Android Home Screen Replacement Aviate Enters Beta, Provides A Context Aware Mobile Experience – While it’s still not open to all, there are invites being passed out by current users, so asking around should get you access. Why would you want to ask for access to a home screen launcher? Aviate may be the most audacious attempt yet to bring true context awareness to your Android home screen.

New Parenting Site MommyCoach Lets Parents Video Chat With Experts Online – A new startup called MommyCoach wants to help parents and, as the name implies, specifically mothers, learn from experts on a range of topics related to their new lives, sharing not only tested parenting advice, but also information on subjects like food and nutrition, health and fitness, life and work, and more.

Twitter starts rolling out option to allow Direct Messaging for non followers – Twitter has started rolling out a new option that lets anyone enable direct messaging for non followers. The option will most likely be welcomed by businesses so they can interact with their customers.

Parrot’s Flower Sensor Keeps Your Garden Lush and Green – Parrot’s Flower Power is a wireless plant sensor that measures in real time how your plants are doing and uses Bluetooth to send the info to an app on your iPhone or iPad.


Calif. governor vetoes email privacy legislation for third time: It would have required police to obtain a warrant for email searches – In a veto memo Saturday, Brown said he was rejecting the bill because its provisions would slow down criminal investigations and impose notice requirements that go beyond what’s required under federal law.

New effort to fully audit TrueCrypt raises $16,000+ in a few short weeks – For nearly a decade, TrueCrypt has been one of the trusty tools in a security-minded user’s toolkit. There’s just one problem: no one knows who created the software. Worse still, no one has ever conducted a full security audit on it—until now.

WordPress security threats, protection tips and tricks – Robert Abela is a WordPress Security Professional and founder of WP White Security. In this interview he talks about the main WordPress security risks, offers tips for website owners on how to protect themselves, and much more.

“Dexter” malware infects South African restaurants, costs banks millions – Hundreds of thousands of people have probably been affected by the fraud, which was primarily focused on KFC outlets and other South African fast-food restaurants, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday. The news service quoted an official with the Payments Association of South Africa as saying: “There’s not a single bank that hasn’t been affected.” In all, losses come to tens of millions of South African rand, which converts to millions of US dollars.

Company News:

Microsoft’s Scroogled Ad Campaign Appears To Be Working – The Scroogled advertising campaign undertaken by Microsoft to ding and scuff its rival Google appears to be an effective effort, according to statistics recently published by AdWeek. That publication’s report details data collected for Microsoft by GfK Roper indicating that, following a visit to, Google’s favorability gap with Bing with users fades from 45 points, to 5.

Apple seeking wider Samsung products import ban – On August 9, Samsung took a legal blow as the ITC ruled it had violated two of Apple’s patents, something leading to an import ban against certain products. Though Apple had successfully had an ITC product ban overturned by the Obama administration, Samsung wasn’t so lucky with its own request, and now Apple is seeking a wider import ban in the US.

Report: Amazon and HTC team up to make smartphones – Amazon, which has been looking to broaden its ecosystem beyond tablets is reportedly working with HTC to introduce smartphones by 2014, according to a report from the Financial Times.

Twitter doubled revenue, saw deeper losses in Q3 – Twitter lost almost as much money in the July-to-September quarter as it did in the first six months of this year, according to a regulatory disclosure made by the company on Tuesday.

Games and Entertainment:

Halo 3 currently free to download for Xbox Live Gold members – As promised, Microsoft has now allowed Xbox Live Gold members to download the Xbox 360 game Halo 3, the 2007 entry in the sci-fi shooter series, for free until October 31st.

Angry Birds Go fills a serious Mario Kart gap in Android and iOS – This week the folks at Rovio have unleashed word of their next gaming effort in Angry Birds Go! This game will – as suspected – work with the “Kart” universe of racing, doing so for Android and iOS on December 11th, 2013. This game will take on what Nintendo refuses to move forward with in creating a full-powered top-notch kart-based racing game for mobile devices.

Pokémon X and Y: 7 tips and secrets to give you an edge – Pokémon X and Y released this past weekend, and buried deep within the usual abyss of depth inherent to the series, lie some important secrets to help you through the game.

Ubisoft kicks Watch Dogs release back to 2014 – This morning’s announcement came with word that the company would also be adjusting financial targets for the coming season, owing largely to the change of dates for the two relatively large title releases. The games will be ready to roll for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 starting next year.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Florida police use cameras to track cars in red-light districts – In the infamous town of Sanford, Fla., police decide to photograph license plates of those suspected of seeking out prostitutes and then send the registered owners of the cars a warning letter.

The unsung women of technology – In celebration of Ada Lovelace Day, we’ve compiled a tribute to 13 women you might never have heard of but who have made significant contributions to technology or science without quite becoming household names.

Survey: Almost All Smartphone Owners Do the Same Thing When They Wake Up – What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Brush your teeth? Take a shower? According to mobile testing firm SOASTA, it’s none of these.

Majority of Australian small business suffering under digital illiteracy – Only 26 percent of local businesses are choosing to sell over the internet, a new survey says.

Freefallin’: Full POV video of Baumgartner’s Stratos dive – Daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s freefall to Earth is now watchable through a dramatic first-person video.

Something to think about:

“Email is your to-do list that anyone can add to.”

–      Anonymous

Today’s Free Downloads:

Virtual CD – Put an end to the annoying business of looking for and inserting your Cds/DVDs. With Virtual CD you can create compressed 1:1 copies (virtual CDs/DVDs) to your hard drive. You can then store your originals safely in a cabinet! Your virtual CDs are then available with a simple click or even automatically with the autostart of the corresponding program. No more drive noise, no more changing CDs, no more slow CD start-up. With Virtual CD you receive up to 23 virtual drives that behave just like the “real” physical CD/DVD drives – except that they are up to 200x faster! The only noise you hear is music or the applictions sounds, and all you need to do is play, work and enjoy.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) – The Secunia PSI is a free security tool designed with the sole purpose of helping you secure your computer against vulnerabilities in programs. 98 out of 100 PCs have 1 or more insecure programs installed! Download the free Secunia PSI and check your PC for insecure programs exposing you to security threats!

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How Much Surveillance Can Democracy Withstand? – The current level of general surveillance in society is incompatible with human rights. To recover our freedom and restore democracy, we must reduce surveillance to the point where it is possible for whistleblowers of all kinds to talk with journalists without being spotted. To do this reliably, we must reduce the surveillance capacity of the systems we use. (suggested by Aseem S.)

NSA: Can it find signals over noise? – The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is reportedly collecting millions of online address books and tracking instant messages. Like a pack rat, the NSA is hoarding data and communications in the hopes that somehow it’ll find an evil doer, but the big question is whether it can ultimately find the right signals.

Completely private email is not legal and shouldn’t be – Lavabit, Edward Snowden’s email provider back before he skipped town, is claiming in appeals court that it’s immune from criminal subpoena. This is unreasonable and it’s a good thing he will almost certainly lose.

Wikileaks In A Box: SecureDrop Is WhistleBlower Communication Tool For Media – In an effort to protect government whistleblowers from unprecedented levels of surveillance, the Freedom of the Press Foundation has launched SecureDrop, an anonymous submission tool for secure communications between sources and journalists. SecureDrop accepts encrypted documents and tips from sources and facilitates communication without putting journalists in jeopardy of having to reveal sources

Reporter who broke Snowden story to leave Guardian – Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who wrote the initial stories based on top secret NSA documents provided by former agency contractor Edward Snowden, is moving on to a “once-in-a-career journalistic opportunity.”



Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

10 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 16, 2013

  1. Dave B.

    In RE: avast 2014; The fact that they’re still loading their free AV app with bloatware will continue to keep me from recommending it.

    • Hey Dave,

      Love this app, really. But, your point is well made.

      On my Win 8.1 machine I’ve run with Panda Cloud (couple of months), and lately BitDefender cloud (until yesterday) – both of which are as stripped bare of user tweaks/options as it’s possible to get. I mean these things are naked! But, each one performed flawlessly.

      Following installation of avast 2014 yesterday, I’ve faced slowdowns while composing in Gmail (c’mon – a slowdown while writing!), occasional slow responses while loading sites (both FF and Chrome), and some additional over-the-top system resource usage. Quite a contrast from my previous experience with avast.

      Looks like I’ll have to get in there and tweak like crazy. 🙂



  2. Pingback: Today’s Geek Squeaks – October 16, 2013 | What's On My PC

  3. Jerry Chance

    Virtual CD is NOT free – it’s Shareware. Sorry guys!


    • Hey Jerry,

      Thanks. A big OOPS! I’ve reviewed this app a number of times – it’s always been free. No longer it seems (that’s what comes from assuming on my part). Too bad – it’s a great app.

      Hope all is well.



  4. Richard J.

    Hello Bill,

    RE: Avast! Free Edition 2014

    Just installed the latest (free) version and was glad to find that the auto-sandbox feature has been removed. I never found it reliable anyway! Much if the time It tended to sandbox files that were perfectly okay. I’ve been relying on Comodo Firewall’s similar auto-sandbox along with Threatfire but this week I’ve been trying out the application whitelisting component of SecureAPlus:

    The installer gives the option to install only the application whitelisting component or additionally the AV component. It scans your machine and builds a file database. (Takes some time to complete).

    There are several modes of operation available

    Interactive Mode
    When SecureAPlus is in the Interactive Mode, it will have more interactions with users by prompting them for further actions by Application Whitelisting such as whether to allow an untrusted file to execute etc.

    Lockdown Mode
    When SecureAPlus is in the Lockdown Mode, any untrusted files which try to execute will be blocked straight away without any prompting by Application Whitelisting for further actions from user.

    Additionally there are options to trust all with time limited restrictions or to trust until restart.

    Then there are various selectable trust levels for files and installers along with the ability to add internet facing applications to the list of those applications that will be allowed to run but any executable files created by them will not be automatically trusted.

    There’s also a “script interpreter” – In application whitelisting, executing a script requires both the script interpreter, which executes the script, and the script file itself to be trusted. The script interpreter will refuse to open any non-trusted file.

    I’ve copied some of the above text from the user manual.

    So far Secure APlus Whitelising has worked alongside Avast with no problems. On my machine it’s using around 15Mb RAM icluding the service that’s installed.

    Best Wishes,

    Rick J.

  5. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Wish I’d read Jerry’s response before downloading the 107Mb Virtual CD file. Serves me right for being late to the party! Mind you, the fact that it’s described as a demo, and the range of facilities, rang a few warning bells. Of course I don’t have a problem with shareware; if software is good enough it’s worth paying for. If not, nothing is lost.

    Kind regards