Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 25, 2013

Evidence that You Can’t Trust the Cloud; NFL Mobile for Android and iOS; Extend your Wi-Fi network; 5 Tips for Getting More out of Gmail; Get the Most Out of Windows 8.1; 8 myths about wearable tech; Smart TVs are dumb, and so are we; Spying on the spies, a roundup of NSA news.

Extend your Wi-Fi network throughout the house – Extending a Wi-Fi network can be as easy as playing with cardboard and tape, or as difficult as rewiring your house. It all depends how big a boost you need, and how much time and money you’re willing to devote to the task. Here are three ways to increase your signal’s range.

Storage 101: Secure, Accessible Options at Home and in the Cloud – Hard drives are the unsung heroes in our increasingly exciting digital lives. They’re the key to saving, protecting, and accessing the data that drives your world. Whether you’re an avid photographer, an accountant, a music lover, a graphic designer, a traveling executive, or all of the above, you need a well-selected suite of smart storage solutions to keep your files safe from loss or destruction, secure from prying eyes, and available right when and where you want them.

30 Percent of Americans Get News on Facebook – Most U.S. adults don’t go on Facebook in search of news, but many find it there, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

Vine shoots for 6-second bliss with saved drafts, video editing – Twitter-owned Vine is giving its more than 40 million users the power to perfect their 6-second clips with two new camera tools. The handy features, added Thursday to Vine for iPhone and Android, have funky names to denote their playful appeal.

NFL Mobile for Android and iOS – As the brand new, redesigned and rebuilt official app of the NFL, NFL Mobile carries football right to your Android phone or tablet! Receive Breaking news, Video highlights, Live game scores, Custom Team News, manage your Fantasy Football Team, and more!

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

5 Tips for Getting More out of Gmail – Gmail is a comprehensive, powerful email program, but it can be confusing, even for those like me who’ve been using it since it launched in Beta in 2004. Some changes are welcome, like the new tabs feature that sorts incoming mail into types of mail. Others may streamline the look, but hide basic options, like changing the subject on an email reply. So I’ve pulled together the five features I find most useful in the current iteration of Gmail.

Get the Most Out of Windows 8.1 – Windows 8.1 has been one of the most-maligned operating systems in recent memory, and, in my opinion, much of what’s been written about it has been misguided, unfair, and just plain wrong. The piling-on Microsoft has experienced in the rollout of its new operating system just goes to illustrate the weakness of the technology journalism field. As a tech journalist, I have some advice for tech fans – Don’t rely blindly on tech journalists—try it for yourself! Most tech journalists are concerned with one thing: getting lots of page views. And they know that one sure-fire technique is to take a scathing, negative attitude.

8 myths about wearable tech – Wearable devices are predominantly technical fascinations at the moment, but they have widespread market potential — if misconceptions can be set straight.

Microsoft releases IE11 reliability patch for Windows 8.1 – Microsoft has released its first post-release patch for Windows 8.1, along with Windows RT 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, which is meant to improve the reliability of Internet Explorer 11.

DroneShield Offers Hunters an Early Warning System for PETA Drones – The crowd-funded startup recently hit the market with a Raspberry Pi-based, plug-in drone detection device that scans the skies for common drone acoustic signatures.

What happens when your cloud provider goes out of business? – Going with cloud providers doesn’t mean you can forget about disaster planning. What if they go out of business, taking your server capacity and data with them?

Yet More Evidence that You Can’t Trust the Cloud: If it’s important to you, don’t store your only copy on the Net – Over at ITworld, my friend (and former boss) Dan Tynan has a chilling account of cloud computing gone awry. It begins with his discovery that his Box online storage account had mysteriously gone missing. And the explanation of what happened is downright bizarre.

Shoppers want their iPads sharp and cheap, survey says – U.S. iPad buyers want Retina Displays but are willing to give up storage capacity and data plans for a better price point, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners finds.

How to work productively from cafes and public spaces – Caffeine and free Wi-Fi are a potent recipe for productivity. It’s what lures you and many other telecommuters to spend serious work time in convenient coffee shops. But whether you’re just getting out of the office or the sidewalk café is your office, working in a public space has some special challenges. These tips will help you stay safe and productive.

Windows RT 8.1 Start screen no longer includes desktop tile by default – Microsoft has confirmed that new devices with Windows RT 8.1 such as the Surface 2 eliminate the desktop tile on the Start screen as a default, although it can be easily enabled.

Mac App Store flaw sees trial and illegal copies of Apple’s apps offered free upgrade – Those who had already purchased copies of the software for their Macs, or bought a new Mac on or after October 1st, were also offered a free upgrade through the Mac App Store. However, there’s a problem Apple didn’t foresee, and it’s giving lots of users who have never purchased the software a free upgrade.


LinkedIn Intro App Equivalent to Man in the Middle Attack, Experts Say – LinkedIn’s release of its Intro app yesterday for Apple iOS mobile devices raised more than a few eyebrows for behaviors that are tantamount to a man-in-the-middle attack, experts said. This is one introduction you may not want to make.

Hackers compromise official PHP website, infect visitors with malware – Maintainers of the open-source PHP programming language have locked down the website after discovering two of its servers were hacked to host malicious code designed to surreptitiously install malware on visitors’ computers. The compromise was discovered Thursday morning by Google’s safe browsing service, which helps the Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers automatically block sites that serve drive-by exploits.

Smart TVs are dumb, and so are we – Korean hacker SeungJin Lee can turn a smart TV into a surveillance and disinformation machine, thanks to the vendor’s slack security coding. When will we learn?

UN Nuclear Regulator Infected with Malware – The United Nations nuclear regulatory body announced that it found malware on a number of its machines but that its networks have not been compromised.

Infographic: Encryption crackability – What are the recommended RSA key sizes for protecting data? Here’s a chart with estimations of how long it would take to break encryption methods.

A (relatively easy to understand) primer on elliptic curve cryptography – Everything you wanted to know about the next generation of public key crypto.

Company News:

Despite Dip in Windows Sales, Microsoft Posts Record Quarter – Microsoft reported record sales of $18.5 billion for its fiscal first quarter, with net income jumping by a healthy 17 percent from a year ago to $5.2 billion.

Twitter to price its IPO shares between $17 and $20 – Based on an assumed initial public offering price of $18.50 — the midpoint of the range — Twitter estimates the net proceeds from the sale of shares of common stock will be roughly $1.25 billion, the company said in documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

YouTube’s Music Service Is Reportedly Almost Ready – Billboard reports that YouTube’s long-rumored subscription music service is close to launching. It’ll reportedly emphasize music videos, and will be a separate service from Google Play All Access, a competitor to Spotify that arrived over the summer.

HP to cut 7,100 jobs in Europe, with more to come worldwide – The computing giant plows ahead with its plan to cut more than 29,000 jobs globally as it aims to reinvest into the company, and cut overall costs.

Taiwan fines Samsung for defaming HTC with fabricated reviews – Taiwan has slapped Korean electronics giant Samsung with a fine for fabricating Internet forum posts that praised the company at the expense of rivals including its home-country handset competitor HTC. On Thursday, Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission said it was punishing Samsung with a $341,037 fine for deceiving consumers with its marketing activities.

Microsoft announces plans for new retail stores in Connecticut and Ontario – Microsoft has announced it plans to open two new full retail stores in Hartford, Connecticut in the U.S. and Mississauga, Ontario in Canada, as part of its continued retail expansion.

Games and Entertainment:

Alone: A game in your game so you can game while you game – In this horror game for the Oculus Rift, you’re playing on the couch in your living room. As the in-game story progresses, elements start to bleed out of the television and into your environment.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer sets fire to the future – The first full-length trailer for Captain America 2 has been released, and inside you’ll find no shares of the past.

Dead Trigger 2 Launches on Android and iOS – Mobile developer Madfinger Games is known for the top shooter titles Shadowgun and Dead Trigger. Continuing that tradition, Madfinger is today releasing Dead Trigger 2 on iOS and Android as a free-to-play title with more zombie shooting than you can shake a shotgun at.

Killzone on PS4 has no loading screens, was 290GB until Guerrilla optimized for Blu-ray – Here’s a few interesting facts about Killzone: Shadow Fall to kick off this article: The finished game including individual assets for all the levels comes in at 290GB of data. The final version of the game being burned on to PS4 Blu-ray discs is 39.7GB. And the most surprising fact of all is that Killzone 3 on the PS3 is actually larger, with 41.5GB of disc space required. The main reason for this massive amount of data is textures.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why snap judgments at warp speed are ruining the Internet – CNET managing editor Jen Guevin issues a plea for more considered thought online, in way more than 140 characters.

Beyond smartphones: 12 crazy places you’d never expect to find Android – From coffee makers to freakin’ ninja robots just itching to sock you in the mouth, here are the most intriguing, eccentric, and downright weird places you’ll find Android. Phones? Pfah. Phones are boring.

Unbelievable time-lapse shows woman aging from 2 to 70 – Nobody better comment that this is a fake. It’s true that the surface conceit here is a lie — in other words, nobody stood motionless in front of a camera for sixty-eight years for a photographer’s portfolio piece and a few hits on Vimeo. That said, video editor Anthony Cerniello along with a team of animators and artists have put together an impressive simulation of how such a project might look.

Twitter troll arrested for allegedly threatening US baseball team, execs and even their home field – The New York Mets fan reportedly is being held in connection with tweeted threats that include sneaking into the clubhouse and putting bombs in everyone’s cleats. If this is the work of a fan, who needs enemies?

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, review: Figures of fun – Science writer Simon Singh has written books on alternative medicine, the origin of the universe, cryptography and Fermat’s Last Theorem. Here he takes a light-hearted look at the mathematical jokes hidden in the longest-running show in US television history.

Something to think about:

“Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.”

–     Lord Acton

Today’s Free Downloads:

NoMachine – Travel from your desktop to any NoMachine-enabled computer, share your desktop with others, play games remotely, record your desktop activity for screencasting and presentations, access all your files and folders, use USB devices and printers as if they were all locally connected, all in a single, free and easy to use package. (Note: This application is offered through CNET. Please pay particular attention to the “offers” wrapped in the installer.)

Memtest86 4.3.5 – MemTest86 is a free, thorough, stand alone memory test for x86 architecture computers.

FotoSketcher 2.60 – A 100% free program which can help you convert your digital photos into art, automatically.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Merkel wasn’t alone: NSA tapped calls of 35 world leaders – The German leader’s phone isn’t the only line tapped by the U.S. National Security Agency. Dozens of other world leaders’ phones were monitored, according to the latest leaks.

Snowden rebuts Feinstein’s statement that NSA spying “is not surveillance”: “No telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA.” – Today, new Snowden comments emerged in which he directly took on Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who last week defended the NSA spying programs in a controversial op-ed in USA Today.

Lavabit encryption key ruling threatens Internet privacy, EFF argues – A court order forcing former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s email provider to turn over its master encryption key undermines a critical security feature used by major Internet services, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said Thursday. The EFF, a digital rights watchdog, filed a brief on Thursday in support of the email provider, Lavabit, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

NSA memo to staff: Help us spy on foreign leaders – Latest Snowden leak is memo published by Guardian that contains plea for access to US officials’ Rolodexes and cites acquisition of 35 world leaders’ phone numbers.

Merkel puts NSA spying on EU leaders’ agenda – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency hacked her phone is relevant for every citizen who needs to trust digital communications. Arriving at the meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels, she told reporters: “The spying isn’t all about me. Trust with the U.S. can only be built on mutual respect.” She added that spying on “friends” is misguided.

Spying on the spies, a roundup of NSA news – State Department insider says German chancellor’s reaction to phone tap may be an act; an enterprising tweeter works some spycraft on the NSA; Snowden speaks out; and more.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

5 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 25, 2013

  1. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    I’m a little surprised that people are surprised that Angela Merkel’s phone, and others were (allegedly) hacked by US intelligence. Do they think that surveillance is only about security and anti-terrorism? If so, they are seriously misguided. Never forget the true nature of international politics: There are our friends, who are not always our friends; there are our enemies, who are not always our enemies; and there are our interests. You don’t have to look very far back into history to find examples of this.

    The important question is are these activities properly scrutinised and the responsible agencies held accountable at the highest level? Anyone…?

    Kind regards

    • Hi John,

      Agree entirely with your assessment.

      The U.S.A. versus the Brits (a long history of being frenimies): A reasonable familiarity with the events surrounding the American Revolution (which unfortunately, most Americans don’t have), might suggest that “America” could not have been successful in it’s pursuit of “liberty”, without a superbly coordinated SPY effort.

      The reality is of course, that all societies, in every era, have engaged in espionage. A legitimate response to an ever increasing chaotic world, it seems to me.

      What separates the current fiasco for me personally (from reasonable surveillance practices), is pretty simple – the U.S. now views every person in the World as a potential enemy (perhaps most of all, it’s own people.)

      Paranoia writ large with virtually no legitimate oversight. As I’ve said before – absurdity is the new reality.



      • I think you put it pretty well, Bill, but I wanted to add a couple of things.

        The part that stood out for me in that entire article was “… the military intelligence agencies remain fearful …” It’s been obvious to me that a lot of what got us here is fear – seeing one crow in the field and thinking there’s thousands (the NSA hasn’t helped it’s cause any by coming up with 54 as the number that justifies the incursions to our lives, and then not even having those numbers be able to stand up to inspection). Making decisions based on fear is never a good idea and fearful people are a poor choice to lead or guide us.

        In one of the leaked documents the NSA considered anyone using privacy tools to be an adversary. It’s shortsighted to think of citizens as adversaries instead of allies. The very notion that we can only be considered friendly if we allow open access to every bit of our online lives to the government (while they increasingly hide their operations) is a ridiculous bar to set for a supposed free society. What are we protecting? Is our choice really to either live with micro-management level government oversight of our lives or be blown up or killed by terrorists? Surely we can come up with a better vision for society than that.

        • Hey RedNightHawk,

          Agreed – FEAR is the modus operendi – served in great dollops at every opportunity.

          What I found most interesting though, is the apparent non-disclosure in/within levels of governments. In other words, increasingly smaller numbers of individuals (who are these people?), are aware of the full intent and the full impact of Prism, and it’s relatives. I’m hardly one to be swayed by conspiracy theories – but, massive unrestrained power in fewer and fewer hands (which seems to be the case), scares the hell out of me.

          Your query – What are we protecting? – is the heart of the issue. The struggle for the answer at a personal level, for all NetCitizens, is overwhelming in it’s complexity I fear.

          Trust all is well down your way. 🙂



  2. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    “Paranoia writ large with virtually no legitimate oversight” says it all. Unfortunately it’s contagious.

    Kind regards