Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 22, 2013

Experian Sold Consumer Data to ID Theft Service;  PCs fail – be ready with the best boot-drive programs;  11 top Windows 8 apps for work and play;  Beyond Dropbox: Shopping the cloud;  RingMeMaybe a disposable phone number app for iOS;  Apple’s iCloud cracked;  Fake Dropbox Password Reset Spam;  The 10 Most Pirated Movies.

Experian Sold Consumer Data to ID Theft Service – An identity theft service that sold Social Security and drivers license numbers — as well as bank account and credit card data on millions of Americans — purchased much of its data from Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, according to a lengthy investigation by KrebsOnSecurity. (recommended by Dave B.)

PCs fail. Be ready with the best boot-drive programs – When your PC stops booting, a boot drive is the electronic version of a defibrillator. If you can boot your PC, you can detect bad memory, chase bad sectors, change passwords, and recover data … all the things you need to get the machine back to normal. I’ll show you how to make the boot drives you need.

How to risk your job in 7 security mistakes – It’s tricky sometimes to get your job done while sticking to all those pesky rules around confidentiality and data protection. Being escorted out of the building for security negligence is not something you recover from very easily, so don’t try any of these at work.

What you need to know about privacy, email, and particularly Gmail – Unless you take special precautions, nothing you send by email is secure. That’s doubly true with Gmail, since Google uses the content of your messages to target advertising. I very much doubt that Google employees are reading your mail; there are cheaper ways to get the job done. But the potential of abuse is always there. And let’s not forget the NSA’s enthusiasm for sticking its nose into everything we do online.

Facebook and Twitter musings give employers a peek into our real selves, research finds – It seemed like common sense to employers, but research shows that yes, actually, bad-mouthing and posting about a wild partying life does work against potential job candidates.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Lockmydrive FreeLocker – Lockmydrive FreeLocker is a basic yet powerful file locker that protects any and all of your drives from intruders. It offers two different encryption styles and is ready to go in a matter of seconds. That makes it one of the best file lockers you can find for Windows. This is technically a portable program, but it requires some setup on your main computer first. (Note: This application is offered through CNET. Please pay particular attention to the “offers” wrapped in the installer.)

11 top Windows 8 apps for work and play – Windows 8.1 has rolled out, and the operating system is better than ever. Apps make any platform shine and while there aren’t as many Windows 8 apps as there are on other platforms there are some pretty good ones.

RingMeMaybe – RingMeMaybe, a disposable phone number generating app for iOS devices that creates real U.S. phone numbers in seconds. With RingMeMaybe, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users can access unlimited numbers for convenient and anonymous communication, removing the need to ever publicly reveal primary phone numbers. RingMeMaybe allows those travelling abroad to stay connected to their work and personal life without facing roaming charges due to the integration of VoIP.

The Best Free Image Editors – Not everyone can use (or afford) high-end imaging software. Luckily you can make great picture edits with these free programs.

Facebook lifts ban on decapitation videos – Facebook has lifted a ban, implemented in May, that prevented images and videos depicting graphic content such as beheadings and other causalities from being published to the social network. The company is returning to a prior practice of not policing violent content that members share in condemnation of the depicted acts. (No sex please. But MURDER – hell yes, no problem!)

Beyond Dropbox: Shopping the cloud – Is it time to drop Dropbox? I’m re-evaluating four major alternatives –, Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive, and SugarSync – for price and features.

Google Ideas aids online rebels with digital defenses – Google wants to ensure that people who live in conflict-ridden regions and under governments that routinely restrict Internet access can still get online, and to further that goal it has built three new tools to provide protection. The tools were announced Monday at the Google Ideas Summit in New York, with the hope that they could become key weapons in the struggle to ensure Internet access in places like Iran, North Korea, China, Cuba, and Syria. (What a laugh! Where’s the protection against the most insidiously corrupt despoiler of the Internet we have yet faced? Yeah Obama – I’m looking at you!)

uProxy introduced as part of Google’s “free expression tools” – Earlier today, we detailed Google’s Project Shield, one of three new “free expression tools” it has introduced. Alongside this is another called uProxy, which is a browser extension that essentially works as a peer-to-peer proxy between friends or mutual users who want more privacy or need to bypass country restrictions, such as a firewall. Though Google has funded the proxy, it is being developed by the University of Washington, and is currently only open to a limited number of beta testers.

PointDrive turns email attachments into polished presentations – PointDrive is a new Web app that lets you bring together documents, images, links, videos and maps in one place, resulting in a streamlined presentation that a recipient can peruse in a glance, comment on, and share with others. While this may sound like a lot more work than attaching files to an email, the presentation creation process in PointDrive is remarkably simple.

Free diagnostic tools for website response and performance issues – Google Developers Chrome DevTools, Web Page Analyzer – 0.98, and Pingdom Website Speed Test are free online tools I recommend for identifying and diagnosing web page and URL performance issues — in particular, the offending items, objects, and elements that cause sites to hang and slow down. These issues give users the perceived notion of website slowness and unresponsiveness. In this article, I explain how to use these diagnostics.

IBM’s do-it-yourself kit makes Internet of things accessible – IBM and hardware partner Libelium hope to cut through the complexities of the so-called “Internet of things” through a do-it-yourself kit allowing users to test and deploy sensor networks. The hardware is a motherboard with sensors for gases, oxygen, carbon dioxide, temperature, motion, light, soil temperature, GPS and others. The board comes with standard interfaces including Ethernet and serial interfaces, so it can be plugged into existing hardware like smart meters or installations like solar energy plants.


Simple Bug Exposed Verizon Wireless Users’ SMS History – A security researcher discovered a simple vulnerability in Verizon Wireless’s Web-based customer portal that enabled anyone who knows a subscriber’s phone number to download that user’s SMS message history, including the numbers of the people he communicated with.

Apple’s iCloud cracked – Notorious Russian hacker Vladimir Katalov shows how lack of two-factor authentication leaves iCloud vulnerable to unauthorized download access.

Security education cuts both ways – why marketers need retraining too – Legitimate businesses need to be more aware of the impact their emails have on the public – the marketers whose attempts at putting across their messages stray over the line into spamming, and the communications people whose irresponsible use of email risks undoing the good work of educators in training us to spot scams and cons.

Fake Dropbox Password Reset Spam Leads to Malware – A new spam campaign has been circulating over the last few weeks aiming to dupe users of the popular cloud storage service Dropbox. The e-mails purport to come from the service but instead lead those who click through to a malware landing page. Some of the emails start off fairly convincingly.

Online child abuse study examines nasty new trends including sextortion – A European study into the commercialisation of child sex abuse online suggests that sexual images and videos shared between youngsters may become a major target for traffickers, who are using increasingly aggressive tactics to gain remote power over vulnerable kids.

Company News:

More Woe For Amazon In Germany As Antitrust Watchdog Investigates – At issue are the company’s terms and conditions specifically over how third-party sellers are able to promote and price goods when selling them on the Amazon Marketplace, alleging that Amazon forces sellers to offer their cheapest prices for goods only on its own platform. In other words, if the seller is also a merchant listing on eBay, that same item will be offered there for a more expensive price.

Yahoo to reinvent small-business services unit – Yahoo, in its crusade to reinvent itself, is adding another item to the agenda: revamping its small-business Web hosting unit. Yahoo Small Business handles Web hosting, domain registration, e-commerce and email services for small businesses. The company is looking to hire a visual designer as part of a larger plan to “reinvent the core user and visual experience” for the division, Yahoo said in a job posting that was published to its site last Friday.

Nintendo says sayonara to the original Wii – After racking up more than 100 million units sold worldwide, Nintendo ends production on one of its most successful pieces of hardware and focuses solely on the Wii U.

Judge says “No” to Yahoo’s request to slow its Microsoft-Bing partnership rollout – A judge said that Yahoo must continue with its previous agreement with Microsoft to deploy the Bing search engines to Yahoo’s sites in Taiwan and Hong Kong, despite a request by Yahoo to slow it down.

BlackBerry: BBM downloads for iOS, Android hit 5M in 8 hours – BlackBerry’s instant messenger service remains popular despite the struggling handset maker’s retreat in the market.

Apple needs 22% of TV set market to stay on top – Apple rose to the top of the ranks of the Fortune 50 on the success of the iPod, iPhone, iPad and MacBook, but to continue being a market leader, it needs new products.

Wikipedia bans 250 accounts on pay-for-article concerns – Amid news reports of groups paying users to write Wikipedia entries, the online encyclopedia has blocked or banned more than 250 accounts, the site announced Monday. A number of user accounts, “perhaps as many as several hundred,” may have been paid to write Wikipedia articles promoting groups or products, Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a blog post.

Games and Entertainment:

Netflix Tops HBO In Paid U.S. Subscribers As Members Stream 5 Billion Hours Of Content In Q3 – Today, Netflix posted its third-quarter earnings, with the streaming video provider exceeding analyst projections thanks to strong subscriber growth in which it added 1.3 million domestically. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells said in a letter to shareholders this afternoon that the company recently surpassed the 40 million members milestone.

Enjoy 17 Snowy Minutes of Batman Growing Up in This Arkham Origins Walkthrough – Includes details on the Bat Cave, training console, fast travel and a game world that’s twice the size of Arkham City‘s.

The Cave – If you’re “seasoned” enough, you probably remember a time when adventure games were at the apex of their popularity, and LucasArts wasn’t yet too busy churning out bad Star Wars titles to bring us releases like Full Throttle, The Dig, and the Monkey Island franchise. The Cave (App Store Link), a $5 title developed by Double Fine Productions and published by Sega, harkens all the way back to those glory days, and indeed counts LucasArts alumni Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer among its creators.

Report: Windows 8.1 causing heavy mouse lag in some PC games – If you are a heavy PC gamer, you might not be happy with Microsoft’s recent update to Windows 8.1, depending on which games are on your hard drive and which mouse you own. Online reports have come in that claim updating to Windows 8.1 can make some games unplayable due to an “improvement” in handling DPI for multiple monitors.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Phone vs. Text vs. E-mail: What type of person are you? – So, just how do you communicate? In this terrific infographic you’ll find some surprising data. Do you run with the herd – or, are you an outlier?

Google Goes After Reporters With New “Google Media Tools” Site – The idea is to offer a one-stop shop where reporters can access and learn to use a number of Google services, from Google Search trends to Google Maps, as well as get details on how to use Google to enhance their reporting on topics ranging from political elections to humanitarian disasters and more.

How to avoid friends and family when using Google Hangouts – The read receipt, which was once the bane of email, has crossed over to instant messaging, and we’re fighting back.

The 10 Most Pirated Movies – If you’re ready to check out the 10 hottest films from last week that were viewed using nefarious means, check out our slideshow. Note: We certainly don’t condone copyright infringement; simply consider this a glimpse into the Web’s back alley where lawlessness rules, and another way to gauge the popularity of a recent video/impending release.

38% Of People Who Are “Single And Looking” Have Used A Dating Site Or App, Says Pew – Pew found that over the last eight years, the number of people who went on a date with someone they met online grew to 66%, a significant increase from 43% in 2005. More than half (59%) of Pew’s respondents said they now agree with the statement that “online dating is a good way to meet people,” compared to 44% in 2005. Though 21% of respondents said they think people who use online dating sites are “desperate,” that’s a decrease from the 29% who agreed with the statement eight years ago.

Machine gun-toting robots may soon back up U.S. soldiers in battle – A weaponized robot acting as a member of a squad of U.S. soldiers fighting on the battlefield is no longer science fiction. They may not be two-legged, humanoid robots yet, but with wheels or tracks they are able to follow troops through a wide range of terrain and back them up in battle. Both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marines have tested prototypes of weaponized robots on the battlefield.

Something to think about:

“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”

–      Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

Pixia 6.0.0e – Pixia is the English version of a popular Japanese painting and retouch software for full color graphics. It supports mask, layer and many other editing functions. You can use your own customized brush tips and even use an image file as a brush tip to create unique effects. Its user-friendly interface is suitable for beginners as well as experts. Pixia supports the most common editing techniques and presents a user friendly interface.

WOT for Firefox – Keep yourself safe from spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and other Internet scams. With the free WOT browser add-on, you can easily see the reliability of companies and websites. WOT will warn you and save your computer before you interact with a harmful site.

Technitium MAC Address Changer 6.0.5 – Allows you to change (spoof) Media Access Control (MAC) Address of your Network Interface Card (NIC) or Wireless Network Card (WiFi), irrespective of the NIC’s drivers or its manufacturer.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CISPA introduced for third time, revised bill language unclear – CISPA, the bill that grants legal immunity to large information-collecting companies from being sued for sharing the personally identifying information of all their customers with the US government, has risen from the grave once again. The “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act” was introduced in the Senate by Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). The language of this the third undead incarnation of the so-called “zombie bill” is as yet unclear.

Mexico condemns alleged NSA hacking of president’s email – The Mexican government has condemned newly reported spying activities of the U.S. National Security Agency against the country’s former president while he was in office.

CryptoSeal Privacy VPN service nuked to avoid NSA hassle – In early August, Silent Circle shutdown its encrypted email service, having been spooked by the government-spurred Lavabit closure in late summer. Now another service is following suit, with CryptoSeal announcing that its Privacy VPN service has been completely shuttered due to concerns about government mandates and privacy violations.

France summons US ambassador over NSA spy allegations – French foreign minister Laurent Fabius has summoned the U.S. ambassador to explain allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on French telecommunications giant Alcatel-Lucent and gathered data on millions of phone calls. Fabius, intercepted outside a meeting of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, told journalists that he immediately summoned the U.S. ambassador to the Foreign Ministry upon reading the news in French newspaper Le Monde.


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