Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 28, 2013

What to Expect with Windows 8.1;  Online encrypted notepad keeps it simple;  Privacy tips – Google, Facebook and others;  Telegram, A Secure Messaging App;  Best features of Ubuntu 13.10;  Windows 8.1 activation – bypassed;  Online comments full of paid lies?  CryptoPrevent 2.4 (download).

What to Expect with Windows 8.1 – No one would argue that Windows 8 created quite a brouhaha from the moment it was announced. Small children screamed. Grown men cried. Eulogies were read. The remainder of the world’s population wondered out loud if Windows 8 was the end of computing as we knew it. OK, I’ll admit I may be a little over the top in describing the reactions, but Windows 8 was more divisive than Windows ME and Windows Vista combined! Was it deserved? Not in my opinion. (Highly recommended)

Must-know privacy tips for Google, Facebook and other online services – So many core aspects of our lives have shifted to the cloud, mostly to our great benefit: Gmail and maintain our email archives. Dropbox and SkyDrive make your files available anywhere, anytime. Windows 8.1 searches include Bing results by default. Google Now dishes out the information you need before you even know you need it. But every gain in convenience comes with a loss of control, and that loss of control all too often comes bundled with privacy or security woes.

Want to know who’s spying on you online? There’s an app for that – Mozilla has released a tool that will allow users of the Firefox browser to know which companies are tracking them online.

Meet Telegram, A Secure Messaging App – Created by the founders of Russia’s biggest social networking platform, Telegram is a new messaging app that offers speed, security and features such as secret chats with end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages.

Free online encrypted notepad keeps it simple – ProtectedText lets you store your text on the company’s encrypted servers, which the company itself can’t decrypt — no registration or other ID sharing required.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Five free resume building apps – Where do you begin? What information do you need? How do you lay it out in a professional manner? Thankfully, you don’t have to keep swimming in that sea of confusion. There are plenty of apps and sites available that will aid you in the process of creating a professional resume. I have looked under the rocks and between the crevices to find five free apps to tackle that task. And here they are.

Official Facebook app zooms to first among free Windows 8.1 apps – The official Facebook app for Windows 8.1 has quickly become the most downloaded free app in the Windows Store. In addition the app has received its first software update.

Five fantastic free apps for fantasy football fans – If your team is struggling, don’t throw in the towel—the info in these apps can help you turn it all around.

10 best features of Ubuntu 13.10 – Jack Wallen lists the 10 features that make Saucy Salamander a more polished Ubuntu distribution.

Top 15 social media mistakes every business can avoid – So how can you create a positive impression of your business and/or your products on popular social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+—and avoid potentially costly social media blunders? asked dozens of social media experts and managers to find out. Here are their top 15 picks for the most common social media mistakes businesses make and how to avoid them.

Huge Google Shift Points To Faster Search Results – Researchers at USC have stumbled on a huge change in how Google architects its search services. The result? Reduced lag in serving search queries, especially in more far flung regions (as in, far from Google’s own data centres).


Buffer spam-and-hack attack resolved, new security layers instituted – Buffer, an app that lets users schedule and post Facebook, Twitter and Google+ updates, is now back up and running after a two-day hack-and-spam ordeal. Buffer was hacked yesterday, sending out third-party spam to thousands of Buffer users’ Facebook pages. The company has cleaned up the mess for the most part and instituted new security measures to prevent future blowouts.

Cryptolocker: How to avoid getting infected and what to do if you are – The newest piece of ransomware is particularly nasty and, once you’ve got it, it’s a real pain to get rid of. Here’s how to protect your corporate assets before getting bit.

12 year old Anonymous hacker pleads guilty to DDOS attack – Could this 12 year old Canadian boy be the new Julian Assange? The fifth-grade hacker appeared in court on Thursday after he was accused of aiding an Anonymous DDOS attack on government websites.

Even the savvy digital natives get hacked, survey reveals – The millennial generation, those who were born and raised alongside the Internet, should be wise enough to avoid account hijackings and other scams, but it turns out not to be true. In fact, one out of four millennials have admitted to having at least once incident where an online account was hacked. In the interest of awareness and critical thought for National Cyber Security Awareness Month, CSO examined the results from a recent survey conducted by Marble Security.

US Reigning Spampions – United States, Belarus, and India take the leading three spots on the “Dirty Dozen” list for countries that send the most amount of spam; consistent with what SophosLabs has seen this past year. Countries on this list aren’t necessarily spammers, but they are spam senders. Spam senders and spammers are two different things.

Windows 8.1 activation has been bypassed – Windows 8.1 can now be activated by a “traditional” Key Management Service workaround, so even pirated software can appear to be legitimate. The hack comes only days after the OS has hit the market.

Company News:

AT&T to phase out per-minute, per-text billing – AT&T will no longer offer per-minute billing plans to most of its new customers, reports the Wall Street Journal. Following the industry trend towards unlimited talk time and texts, the company will only offer one per-minute plan, a meager 450 minutes per month for about $40, plus extra for texts and data.

Ashton Kutcher confirmed as Lenovo’s new spokesperson – Actor Ashton Kutcher has now been confirmed as the new spokesperson for Lenovo and will make his official debut on Monday night to launch the company’s “betterway” campaign.

Microsoft reportedly in discussions for rights to name Real Madrid’s stadium – Microsoft is said to be in early discussions with the Real Madrid soccer team to buy the rights to name the team’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, while Bill Gates himself is reportedly part of the talks.

BlackBerry Denies Paying for Fake BBM for Android Reviews – The Android and iOS apps hit 10 million downloads in just 24 hours, and according to the Android reviews, everyone is loving the BlackBerry Messenger experience. But the effusive nature of some of those reviews, as well as similar wording, prompted some to speculate that some reviews were not from average BBM users but BlackBerry PR.

Games and Entertainment:

Call of Duty: Strike Team Breaches Google Play With Limited Device Support – Activision mentioned only a few days ago that it was working on a true Call of Duty game for the Android platform, and it’s already here. Call of Duty: Strike Team is in Google Play, but it’s only compatible with certain devices right now. This shooter is a hybrid of the first-person experience and a top-down tactical action game. For COD fans, this will probably be a winner.

Amazon offers free $20 Xbox Live gift card with 12 month Xbox Live subscription – Today, Amazon started a limited time promotion that lets people get a free $20 Xbox Live gift card if they purchase a full year’s worth of a Xbox Live membership for $59.90.

Anki Drive Review: Slot-Car Racing for the Robotics Age – A startup’s first toy is terrific fun and a technological tour de force — as long as you can live with the high price and skimpy battery life.

Alienware offers $200 trade-in credit on new PCs for your gaming console – With the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on the way, Alienware tries to make PC gaming a slightly better deal.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Student game world takes historic London maps into 3D space – Six students from De Montfort University won first prize in the Off The Map challenge when they turned maps of seventeenth century London into a detailed 3D world. Pudding Lane Productions offered a fly-through of seventeenth century London and, although unpopulated, is packed with references to human activity—laundry on lines, market stalls and so on.

Internet Archive’s new Historical Software Archive lets you interact with software as-it-was – The Internet Archive this weekend released a new addition to its growing collection of historical media, the Historical Software Collection. The collection lets you run old, outdated, and historically important software right inside the modern browser. This marks the first time a project of this kind has been taken on to such a large extent, and it is free to the public.

Are online comments full of paid lies? – A thriving industry of paid-for user comments pollutes social networks with fake opinions. Even Samsung does it.

Chemists find biological complexes that beat chance – Scientists have used a set of modern biomolecules to show that the formation of larger, more complex groupings of molecules may be inherently favored. They found that when components of the molecular machines that exist in living cells today are mixed with membrane material, functional complexes form more often than you’d expect from chance.

God exists, say Apple fanboy scientists – With the help of just one MacBook, two Germans formalize a theorem that confirms the existence of God. Allegedly, of course.

‘Twitter Bra’ Raises Breast Cancer Awareness – A bra that sends out a tweet every time it’s unclasped may sound like some kind of racy evolution of Foursquare or, more darkly, a digital update on the chastity belt. But the Greek ad agency behind the contraption assures us it’s all for a good cause, raising awareness of breast cancer.

Video review: Zooming across Texas in the Tesla Model S – Tesla Motors recently loaned Ars Technica a tricked out $121,870 Model S P85+, and we clocked about 500 miles with the car over 3 days. In that time, we captured almost ten hours of raw video, which we’ve distilled down to a few brief minutes.

Police firing GPS tracking ‘bullets’ at cars during chases – In Iowa and Florida, they have a new method of chasing suspects. The police car’s grill opens up and out is projected a better method of keeping up with the vehicle they’re chasing.

Something to think about:

“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”

–      Kurt Vonnegut

Today’s Free Downloads:

USB Image Tool – USB Image Tool boils down the process of creating and restoring disk images of USB flash drives to a few easy steps. It has a welcoming feel for beginners while still doing the job for advanced users. The program is portable so there is no need for installation. (Note: This application is offered through CNET. Please pay particular attention to the “offers” wrapped in the installer.)

BitTorrent 7.8.2 – A peer-to-peer file sharing/distribution protocol designed for transferring files from multiple locations.

CryptoPrevent 2.4 – CryptoPrevent is a tiny utility to lock down any Windows OS to prevent infection by the Cryptolocker malware or ‘ransomware’, which encrypts personal files and then offers decryption for a paid ransom.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Dear AV provider: Do you enable NSA spying? Yours, EFF – The Electronic Frontier Foundation, security expert Bruce Schneier, and 23 others have called on antivirus providers around the world to protect their users against malware spawned by the National Security Agency and other groups that carry out government surveillance. Schneier has said that the NSA only relies on these methods when analysts have a high degree of confidence that the malware won’t be noticed. That means detection by AV programs could make the difference between such attacks succeeding, failing, or being used at all.

Report: Germany Wants Its Own Internet After Spying Revelations – State-backed Deutsche Telekom is currently urging other German communications firms to “cooperate to shield local Internet traffic from foreign intelligence services” like the National Security Agency (NSA), Reuters reported Friday.

A Computer Program That Hacks Language & Exposes US Secrets – Many academics, like Columbia University historian Matthew Connelly, would like to be able to access the information that’s hidden by the government but doesn’t really need to be. That’s why he is leading a project called the Declassification Engine, an effort to find out more from documents that are declassified but have significant portions redacted, with words, phrases, and sometimes whole paragraphs blacked out. Considering that the declassified archive includes hundreds of millions of pages, going through them all by hand isn’t a feasible option. So Connelly is working with computer scientists to try to automatically pull useful information from the documents. (recommended by Michael F.)

NSA Says Site Outage Due to Error, Not Hacking Attack – The NSA site was reportedly down as early as around 3 p.m. Eastern on Friday and still remained inaccessible at around 11 p.m., with some Twitter accounts associated with the Anonymous hacktivist collective taking credit for a malicious takedown of the site via distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, Gizmodo reported.

Protesters rally in DC to end NSA mass surveillance – A crowd of about 5000 people, chanting “stop spying, stop lying” and “hey, ho, mass surveillance has got to go,” marched through Washington, D.C., Saturday to protest the U.S. National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs unveiled in press reports this year.

How one small American VPN company is trying to stand up for privacy – In recent months, I’ve started to take my own digital security much more seriously. I encrypt my e-mail when possible, I’ve moved away from Gmail, and I’ve become much more vigilant about using a VPN nearly all the time. Just as cryptographers and security researchers are auditing tools like TrueCrypt, I’ve started to kick the tires of the products that I rely upon on daily basis.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 28, 2013

  1. Re: BlackBerry Denies Paying for Fake BBM for Android Reviews

    The article didn’t seem to have been researched too well. It did mention that the reviews were 1 or 5 star, but only focused on the 5 star ones and allegations surrounding those. I don’t know what the exact breakdown was, but this article shows the one star reviews used pretty much the same wording as the 5 star ones. I find it hard to believe that BlackBerry would’ve paid for that.

    While I did hear about bugs (and BlackBerry should take flak for that considering they had extra time to sort out things after their failed launch), some of the issues people faced were due to an iOS update that removed access to a previously used font, and on Android there were also some Google authentication issues that some people mistakenly thought was caused by BBM.

    • Hey RedNightHawk,

      Seems like a pretty non-productive way to light the fire – so yeah, I agree.

      On the other hand – BlackBerry is still deep in my doghouse. The withdrawal of the “supposed” offer re: OS 10 on my PlayBook annoyed the hell out of me. Mind you, I will admit that I’m not at all unhappy with the current OS.