Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 18, 2013

Apple CAN read your iMessages; 4 Apps to Help You Sleep Better; Monitoring children’s smartphones; Best Video Editing Software for Consumers; Netflix Boosts Android App; Upgrading to Windows 8.1: Your survival guide; Ubuntu 13.10 available; Get a free pint of Guinness; BitTorrent site isoHunt shutting down; TrueCrypt Audit.

Contrary to public claims, Apple can read your iMessages – Contrary to public claims, Apple employees can read communications sent with its iMessage service, according to researchers who have reverse engineered it. “Apple’s claim that they can’t read end-to-end encrypted iMessage[s] is definitely not true,” researchers from QuarksLab wrote in a white paper summarizing their findings. “As everyone suspected: yes they can!”

4 Apps to Help You Sleep Better – If you’re not ready to strap on a gadget every night in search of some extra shut-eye, there are apps that are designed to help. Here are four innovative tools that are well worth a try.

MASHED – NSA: National Insecurity (video 3:07) – A comedic view of an insane organization who’s modus operendi was captured intact, from the Twilight Zone. A parody, such as this one, may help substandard American politicians overcome their substantial intellectual challenges. (recommended by Michael F.)

Monitoring our children’s smartphones is a necessary evil – I am not a parent. I don’t presume to know better than a parent does about raising their own child. I consider myself to be pretty arrogant and opinionated, but not that much.

Two girls arrested after one allegedly brags on Facebook about cyber bullying suicide victim – Two girls – ages 12 and 14 – have been arrested in connection with the bullying of Florida teen, Rebecca Ann Sedwick, after the 14-year-old allegedly bragged on Facebook about her part in Rebecca’s death, signing the post with a little red heart.

Poll: 2 Years In, Consumers Still Mistrust Siri – After rolling out Siri as the centerpiece of the iPhone 4S, Apple hasn’t done enough to improve its accuracy, according to a new survey from Intelligent Voice.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The Best Video Editing Software for Consumers: Here are some of the best entry and intermediate offerings on the market today – Like a shot-glass-sized sample at a coffeehouse, these freebies will provide a quick thrill, but probably leave you wanting more. Still, compared to a lot of the free drivel out there, they’re suitable starting points. Linux runs them all, while Lightworks works on Windows and Kdenlive is compatible with Mac.

AT&T Will Do Day Passes for Tablet Data: Single-day passes will cost $5 for 250 MB – The problem with monthly data plans for tablets is that you might end up paying for service you don’t use. So AT&T is trying a different approach, where users can buy short-term data plans instead. As All Things D reports, tablet users will soon be able to pay $5 for a day pass that includes 250 MB of data. AT&T will also offer a three-month pass with 1 GB of total data for $25.

Point, shoot, shop: 5 shopping apps that use your phone’s camera – Now you can search for products without having to type their names (how many E’s are in Cheetos again?), compare prices, and even take advantage of paper coupons without having to clip and carry them. Just make sure all this convenience doesn’t lull you into buying a bunch of stuff you wouldn’t otherwise purchase.

Screenshots: New Windows 8.1 features – Windows 8.1 released on October 17, 2013, and we take a look at some of the highlights you need to know about.

Microsoft releases 90 day trial versions of Windows 8.1 Enterprise – Microsoft has released ISO builds for both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the Windows 8.1 Enterprise, designed mostly for businesses to evaluate the OS free for 90 days.

Netflix Boosts Android App, Tips DVD-Like ‘Extras’ for Original Series – Netflix is finally rolling out a long-awaited Android app update aimed at removing annoying video lags and boosting the user interface

Upgrading to Windows 8.1: Your new OS survival guide – Windows 8.1 brings many crucial improvements, as well as a vastly better app ecosystem. But here’s the bottom line: Windows 8.1 is worth the upgrade. And here’s how to do it.

Ubuntu 13.10 available for desktop and smartphone users – With Windows 8.1 officially launching today, refreshed operating systems are on the minds of a lot of computer users. If your tastes lie in an operating system other than Windows, you may be interested in the latest version of Ubuntu Linux that launched yesterday. Ubuntu 13.10 launched on October 17 bringing a number of improvements for fans of the operating system.

Get a free pint of Guinness with newly launched app – while the first pint is free, users can boost their chances of being rewarded with the more prestigious rewards by using the app to check-in at any of the 6,500 participating pubs in the republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The app features a social map and provides users with the social hot spots, giving them the ability to select a pub in their area, based on how busy it is.

Quick Tip: Add a follow up reminder to an email message – Never work harder than you have to. Adding a reminder (a special type of flag) to a message in Outlook is easy if you take the right route.

Frax app brings gorgeous, 50-megapixel fractals to iOS – A new iOS exclusive app called Frax puts the wonder of fractals on your iPhone or iPad. The program uses an enormous “master equation” with over eighty changeable parameters to render the distinctive, pulsing patterns of light and color.


You’re infected—if you want to see your data again, pay us $300 in Bitcoins – Ransomware comes of age with unbreakable crypto, anonymous payments.

Skycure Hacked My iPhone To Prove They Can Protect It – Skycure says that they have a novel way to protect iOS devices, and after letting them hack my phone I believe them.

Hackers steal customer information from PR Newswire – Hackers managed to steal a database containing customer credentials and contact information from PR Newswire, a major press release distribution service that’s used by tens of thousands of companies and public relations agencies. The same group of cybercriminals are believed to have also hacked into computer systems belonging to several major data brokers including Dun and Bradstreet, LexisNexis and Kroll Background America.

Organised drug gangs increasingly hooking up with hackers, warns Europol – Organised crime is becoming increasingly entwined with hacking, creating a “service-orientated industry” and making the internet “the single most important” factor facilitating major organised crime and drug trafficking, according to the head of Europol.

Company News:

BitTorrent site isoHunt shutting down thanks to settlement with movie studios – The popular BitTorrent search engine website isoHunt has entered into an agreement with the major U.S. movie studios and as part of that settlement will shut down operations next week.

Google Beats The Street In Q3 With $14.89B In Revenue, Net Income Of $2.97B, And ……. – Google’s Q3 2013 earnings report has just crossed the wires, and they’re better than expected. The company reported that over the past three months it generated $14.89 billion in consolidated revenue and $2.97 billion in net income, as well as non-GAAP earnings of $10.74 per share.

Now enter Lenovo as a potential BlackBerry suitor – The list of reported parties interested in buying BlackBerry is growing, and now includes Lenovo Group, according to unnamed sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal. Lenovo is based in Beijing, China, but has 33,000 workers in more than 60 countries, including Morrisville, N.C., according to its Web site.

Samsung offers patent injunction promise to escape antitrust fine – Samsung has promised not to threaten rivals with injunctions over mobile standards-essential patents for the next five years, as the Korean firm attempts to evade antitrust penalties after being accused by Apple of misusing its 3G IP.

Judge Selects ‘Monitor’ to Keep Tabs on Apple in E-Book Case – A New York judge this week appointed attorney Michael R. Bromwich to serve as the external monitor who will make sure Apple is not engaging in anti-competitive behavior when it comes to e-books.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox 360 takes hit as PlayStation 3 becomes top US console – Microsoft has enjoyed a long run as maker of the most popular video game console in the United States, with the Xbox 360 consistently trumping Sony’s console month after month. All good things comes to an end, however, and the Xbox 360’s reign is over — for now, at least — with the latest numbers showing the PlayStation 3 as the nation’s top video game system.

Myst studio Cyan announces first substantial gaming project in nearly a decade – Myst fans, celebrations are in order. Earlier this month at the IndieCade conference in Los Angeles, Myst co-creator Rand Miller confirmed that his development studio Cyan hoped to launch a Kickstarter for a “ larger project.” Well, that Kickstarter is here. Meet Obduction, Cyan’s first substantial project in almost a decade (Myst V: End of Ages came out in 2005).

Original Grand Theft Auto being rebuilt in 3D – It would appear that nostalgia is getting the better of at least one of the original designers of the original Grand Theft Auto as Michael Dailly has announced his intent to re-make the original Liberty City. This re-creation of the original landscape from the top-down game that eventually lead way to one of the best-selling games of all time will be done in 3D.

Infographic: What Makes Digital Comic Book Readers Tick? – In celebration of NYCC 2013 (and as an extra marketing push for its recently revamped Android app and new publishing relationships), digital comics platform comiXology picked customers’ brains about where they most enjoy reading, how much money they spend on comics, and what their other hobbies are—if they have any.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Six lines your boss should never cross – A list of six ways you can tell if your boss has crossed the line of professional behavior. According to Allison & Taylor, your boss is crossing the line if he or she…

5 tips for hiring security-savvy IT professionals – How do you make sure your new IT recruits are security-aware? Ross McKerchar is Sophos’s IT Security Manager and has been involved in hiring for five years. Here are his tips to winnow away the chaff and discover what your candidate really knows about security.

40% Of YouTube Traffic Now Mobile, Up From 25% In 2012, 6% In 2011 – It’s hard to get people to concentrate long on anything on their phones and tablets, yet YouTube seems to be the exception. The video service is quickly going mobile, with small screens making up 40% of its traffic now compared to 25% last year, Google said on its earnings call today. In 2011, just 6% of YouTube traffic came from mobile.

An extra fifty cents worth of sensors and your iPhone 5s could have read your emotions – An extra fifty cents worth of sensors and your iPhone 5s could have read your emotions rather than just track exercise and fitness, chip manufacturer Freescale says, predicting a time soon when smartphones will know more about our moods than our friends and families do.

Curiosity proves that bits of Mars fall to Earth as meteorites – The speculation ends: Mars rover Curiosity has positively identified hundreds of meteorites found all over the Earth as Martians.

Statistical models can predict a Kickstarter’s success within 4 hours – Kickstarter has become the Internet’s prime vector for Cinderella stories, catapulting pet projects to fame and burying would-be entrepreneurs in more logistics and minutiae than they were ready to handle. There are many different degrees of success on Kickstarter, but when broken down to a binary yes/no score, a group of scientists have found that they can predict with reasonable confidence whether a project will succeed or fail within the first four hours of its launch.

European homes now have 100 percent broadband coverage – Satellite-based Internet access has reached the last 0.6 percent of homes that copper wires and mobile networks didn’t, the European Commission announces.

Something to think about:

Work is not always required… there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.”

–      George McDonald

Today’s Free Downloads:

Comodo BackUp – Comodo BackUp is integrated into windows explorer so you can backup files and folders with a simple click. Free of charge, its features include different types of backups such as disk and partitions backup, files and directories backup, entire registry backup, custom registry keys backup, user settings backup, mail accounts backup, messenger clients backup and system state backup. Additional features are available such as e-mail reporting, extensive report logs, advanced rule-based filtering, flexible scheduling of backups, space-saving archiving capabilities, password encryption with multiple encryption algorithms, history list for backups and more.

DVD Slim Free – DVD Slim Free is a small and easy to use application that allows you to quickly create and print covers. It allows you to print traditional covers for CDs, DVD, VHS, Blue Ray, Playstation Portable, PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox, Nintendo Wii, Standard Disc Labels, Mini-discs, and something completely new, can transform a standard cover in a 14 mm SLIM 7 or 9 mm and 5 mm even SLIM SOFT, scaling proportionally individual items!

Auslogics Browser Care – This unique tool lets you take back full control of all browsers installed on your PC. Clean up, speed up and keep your web browsers well-maintained for top performance! Remove unwanted toolbars or plugins. Change hijacked home page to the page you want. Set your preferred search engine as default. Clear cache to unclutter your drive and speed up your browser. Manage all installed browsers from one place.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden: Russia, China did not nab NSA files – In interview with New York Times, former NSA contractor Snowden says there’s no way his cache of classified documents fell into hands of Russians or Chinese. He also details his motivations.

A Court Order is an Insider Attack – Commentators on the Lavabit case, including the judge himself, have criticized Lavabit for designing its system in a way that resisted court-ordered access to user data. They ask: If court orders are legitimate, why should we allow engineers to design services that protect users against court-ordered access? The answer is simple but subtle: There are good reasons to protect against insider attacks, and a court order is an insider attack.

TrueCrypt Audit Could Answer Troubling Questions – TrueCrypt has been downloaded more than 28 million times and is lauded as easy-to-use software that does its job of encrypting files, disk partitions, or entire devices. It’s “grandma-friendly” as one expert puts it, but there are plenty of worrisome aspects that users and security experts have looked past until now. For instance, it’s not publicly known who is on the development team behind TrueCrypt. Also, the most common TrueCrypt packages are downloadable binaries for Windows that cannot be compared to the original source code; those binaries behave differently than versions compiled from source code, experts say. With revelations of new NSA surveillance dropping almost weekly, paranoia and conspiratorial thinking is giving way second thoughts about even the most trusted software.

ACLU sues feds for hiding NSA spying from terror defendants – Five years after Congress authorized warrantless electronic spying, the Obama administration has never divulged to a single defendant that they were the target of this type of phone or e-mail surveillance—despite lawmakers’ claims the snooping has stopped terrorist plots and resulted in arrests. The reason federal prosecutors are keeping mum, and perhaps violating federal rules requiring the government to tell defendants where evidence was obtained, is because such a concession would pave the way for a challenge to the constitutionality of the surveillance tactics, which Congress approved in 2008 and then again in December.

Aaron Swartz’s unfinished whistleblowing platform finally launches: SecureDrop was heavily audited by Bruce Schneier, Jacob Appelbaum, and others – About nine months ago, the Internet lost one of its most beloved activists in Aaron Swartz. But starting today, his legacy lives on through the formal launch of a project called SecureDrop. The new online platform was originally coded by Swartz in collaboration with Wired reporter Kevin Poulsen. It has since been taken over by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a group founded by a handful of Electronic Frontier Foundation staffers.



Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

9 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 18, 2013

  1. Don

    Hi Bill; for a minute I thought I was reading my own thoughts with regards to cellphone insurance and Asurian! I just had an experience exactly like the one described in your article. My “refurbished” phone had problems almost from day one. AND, it had a defective usb port that accepts the charger. It was somehow recessed too far and after a few struggles trying to line the charger cord into it, the receptacle broke off. A call to Asurian and they told me it constituted “physical damage” since the port broke off! They wanted yet another $99 co-pay. I told them if I went along with it I wanted NEW, not REFURBISHED. Their answer was: we have no control of what’s sent out of our warehouse! In other words: some get new – some get old. Unbelievable. After talking with a Verizon Store rep on the phone, we reached an agreement. I did an early termination on the line, paid the penalty and bought a new phone with a new number at the discount price! Net savings (when factoring in the rebate) was a hundred bucks! When the sales associate asked me if I wanted the optional insurance I reminded him of why I was in the store!

    • Hi Don,

      LOL! I hear ya – sort of deja vue all over again. 🙂

      What is not funny in the least is the ease with which damage can occur (as in your case), due to poor design, faulty workmanship, ………..

      I have, over the years, snapped – cracked – twisted – bent (I’ll stop there), connectors/connections.

      So glad that you took the time to relate your adventure – some great lessons.

      Thanks Don.