Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 1, 2013

FAA to Allow Gadget Use;  iPad Alternatives; Print from Your iPad;  More Free Fonts;  Inside Android 4.4 KitKat;  The Mother of All PlayStation 4 FAQs; Rules for trouble-free updates;  Ingress beta open to all;  The whole truth about e-cigarettes;  Is your kid addicted to the iPad;  Senate panel approves continued NSA surveillance.

Tech companies unite against NSA spying – Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other tech companies call upon the Senate Judiciary Committee to reform the US government’s mass surveillance practices.

FAA to Allow Gadget Use During Takeoff, Landing – Your gadgets must be in airplane mode, but going forward, you will be able to continue reading an e-book, playing Angry Birds, or watching a movie as the plane taxis, takes off, starts its initial descent, and arrives at your destination.

Travel happier with TripDeck and Hotel Tonight – Traveling can take a toll on anyone—whether you’re a nervous flyer, a terrible planner, or a n00b at navigating all the various airline deals, there’s a lot to contend with when you want to take a trip. Of course, that old adage “There’s an app for that” certainly applies here as there are scads of apps to help each aspect of a trip. So how do you figure out which ones are most useful to you? Simple, just check out our App Invasion to see what we’re using!

The Top Apple iPad Alternatives – The iPad Air arrives on Friday, but it’s not the only tablet on the block. Check out these alternatives.

How to Print from Your iPad – The iPad is almost a laptop computer. After all, you can write documents in Pages, and draw beautiful pictures in Sketchbook Pro. But when you need to print them out, your options get pretty slim.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to tell if your kid is addicted to the iPad – Psychologists say there are five tell-tale signs. However, many of these signs seem remarkably adult.

Nexus 5 official with 5-inch display and 4G LTE – Today the Google Nexus 5 has been made official, readied for the Google Play store with LG as a manufacturer and a two-tier system in place. This smartphone works with a 4.95-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel display (that’s Full HD 1080p) with 445 PPI (pixels per inch). Inside you’ll find Android 4.4 KitKat readied for this phone first, followed by waves of Android devices in the near future.

What’s inside Android 4.4 KitKat and why you should care – A revamped interface, improved dialer, and app search are small steps toward a better Android. Let’s walk through some of the key features of KitKat and what you can expect when you finally get your hands on the new OS (whenever that is, because as we know, Android updates can take a long time to roll out).

Windows 8.1 surprises: 25 hidden features and little extras – Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a big difference, and that’s definitely the case with Windows 8.1. Even after covering the update’s best new features, its five most compelling improvements, and its most intriguing secrets, there’s still plenty to discover. And the operating system doesn’t actively point you to some of the cooler things it has on tap.

Five rules for trouble-free software updates – If you think you’ve been spending more time than usual waiting for your software to update, you may be right. Taking your time is one of my “update rules.” These guidelines will help keep your software updates from causing problems of their own.

Review: f.lux makes your computer usable at night – If you’re reading this late in the day, pause to consider your eyes. Can you feel that familiar sting that comes from looking at a glaring LCD for too many hours? That’s only the most noticeable symptom of what happens to our bodies when we spend hours staring into what’s essentially a big, bright, lamp. F.lux is a simple and free app that helps fix this.

Cookies may disappear, but privacy won’t return – Tech giants are phasing out cookies. But it’s only because they have better tracking tools.

Monotype, Google Partner to Offer More Free Fonts – Christmas has come early for typography nerds: Monotype and Google have teamed up to offer a new free version of the Typecast application, now accessible online via Google Fonts.

How to set up your custom Google+ URL – Because who doesn’t want their very own custom Google+ URL?

Google, Oracle, Red Hat join effort to fix – The extra hands hope to help the government meet a Nov. 30 goal to have the site working smoothly for the large majority of users.


Euro cops: We should be allowed to hack into computers – Don’t call it hacking, a senior cybercrime adviser for the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit said at a security conference — it’s “lawful intrusion.”

Fake social media ID duped security-aware IT guys – Penetration testers used a faked woman’s identity on social networks to break into a government agency with strong cybersecurity defenses.

Windows XP antivirus updates for Microsoft Security Essentials could end April 8 – Microsoft has now said it “will not guarantee” it will continue offering antivirus updates for Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP users after Microsoft cuts support for the OS April 8.

L.A. Creates New Center to Stop Cyber Attacks – The mayor of Los Angeles has announced the creation of a new command center to prevent potential hackers or foreign enemies from disrupting the computer networks behind the city’s public services.

Anonymous gets it hackles up, threatens Singapore’s government – Anonymous has involved itself in a variety of squabbles and issues, the latest of which involving censorship in Singapore. The hacking collective has created a video threatening the People’s Action Party government of Singapore, something following on the heels of an alleged attack on the nation’s infrastructure by one hacker referred to as “the messiah”.

Company News:

Android scored record 81% market share in 2013 Q3 – Strategy Analytics has released its third quarter Android smartphone shipment numbers, and in them we see a new victory for Google’s mobile OS: a record 81-percent global market share, something it has scored in light of BlackBerry and Apple failings.

Apple drops to second place in J.D. Power tablet satisfaction – For the first time, the iPad has fallen off the top of the customer satisfaction charts, beaten out by none other than Samsung. And it’s exactly for the reason you might guess.

Oracle shareholders vote against Ellison’s compensation package – Ellison is paid $1 in salary, receiving the rest of his pay in stock options. In Oracle’s past fiscal year, that totaled $76.9 million. Ellison declined to receive a bonus. Other top Oracle executives such as co-President Mark Hurd also receive a lot of stock options.

Apple, Microsoft-Backed Rockstar Consortium Sues Google, Samsung Over 7 Nortel Patents – The Rockstar consortium is an organization backed by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony. It purchased patents off of the defunct telecommunications company Nortel in 2011, in a bidding war with Google. Now, the consortium has filed suit against Google, ASUSTek, HTC, Huawei, LG, Pantech and ZTE over those patents.

Report: CBS Developing Streaming News Channel – The project, reportedly codenamed “CBS News Stream, is a collaboration between CBS’s news and interactive teams. Viewers will be able to watch content in a linear, channel-like format or select videos on demand., The “Craigslist of China,” Goes Public On The New York Stock Exchange –, the online classifieds marketplace often referred to as the “Craigslist of China,” will hold its initial public offering of 11 million American Depository Shares (ADS) at $17 each on the New York Stock Exchange today. Other Chinese tech companies that plan to hold U.S. IPOs this year include Qunar, a travel Web site owned by Baidu, which wants to raise up to $155 million when it goes public on NASDAQ this week, as well as sports lottery site and app developer Sungy Mobile, which want to raise $150 million and $80 million, respectively.

Yelp Reviewers Sue for ‘Unpaid Wages’ – Filed in a Los Angeles district court, the suit says Yelp simply designates its contributors as “independent contractors,” “interns,” “volunteers” or “contributors” — not actual employees, therefore violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Games and Entertainment:

‘A World of Keflings’ and ‘Iron Brigade’ are November’s free Xbox Live Gold games – Microsoft has announced that ‘A World of Keflings’ and ‘Iron Brigade’ will be November’s free games for Xbox 360 owners with Xbox Live Gold membership, as part of the Games for Gold program.

Ingress beta open to all: Google’s game sticks with Android – This week the folks at Google and Niantic have released their cages from the “closed beta” edition of Ingress to allow this augmented reality game to all. The game remains in “beta” mode, though we’re essentially seeing the entirety of this environment’s gameplay live right this minute. This game will be available to iOS users in the future, but for the time being – it’s all about Android.

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will ship 10 million units by March tips EA – EA is predicting some very healthy sales for the next generation consoles including the PlayStation 4 from Sony and the Xbox One for Microsoft. EA recently held its earnings call and company CEO Andrew Wilson was deluged with questions about the coming launch of the next generation game consoles from both Microsoft and Sony. EA expects big things and significant sales numbers for both consoles.

Call of Duty Ghosts and Battlefield 4 run natively at 720p on Xbox One – At least two major Xbox One launch games, Call of Duty Ghosts and Battlefield 4, will have a native resolution of 720p while their PlayStation 4 counterparts will run natively at higher resolutions.

Why I’m not too worked up about the next-gen console resolution wars After examining all the available evidence, it seems clear that the PlayStation 4 versions of launch games like Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts enjoy a slight graphical advantage over their Xbox One cousins. It also seems equally clear, to me, that the difference just isn’t that big a deal—unless you plan on playing games while looking through a magnifying glass.

Sony Just Unveiled the Mother of All PlayStation 4 FAQs – You know all those pre-launch hardware FAQs the game blogs like to run before new consoles arrive? Yeah, forget about them, because Sony just rolled one out that’ll take you the better part of an afternoon to comb through.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel – Why did it take so long to invent the wheelbarrow? Have we hit peak innovation? What our list reveals about imagination, optimism, and the nature of progress.

You’re not hearing the whole truth about e-cigarettes – Sure, movie stars use them and they don’t make your clothes smell, but a lot of information–good, bad, and ugly–is missing from the e-cigarette story that advertisements tell.

Wristify: A personal Peltier wrist cooler that could save the US millions in energy costs – Called the Wristify, the device is essentially a copper alloy heatsink that uses thermoelectric cooling to reduce the skin temperature of your wrist. Thermoelectric cooling is governed by the Peltier effect, which describes heating or cooling caused by electric current flowing across a junction of two different conductors.

10 nightmarish ways to end up phoneless – Earlier this year, we published an infographic by Protect Your Bubble that broke down smartphone incidents by gender and age group. Now, in the spirit of Halloween and all things spooky, we thought we’d take a look at some of the uncommon but true horror stories of smartphone damage, loss, or theft from real Protect Your Bubble claims. Here are 10 of the most nightmarish ways that users have ended up phoneless.

Humanity’s infinitesimally tiny influence on the universe, or why we haven’t met any aliens yet – I often find that the only way to truly fathom just how vast the universe is, or to successfully communicate the insane enormity of it to other people, is to illustrate just how small humanity is. After all, everything we ever do, say, or experience is measured against the yardstick of human endeavor. It’s great to say that the universe is 14 billion years old, or that Voyager 1 is now flying towards one of the nearest habitable planets, but it’s only when we put things in human terms do we truly appreciate the scale of the universe.

Something to think about:

The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.”

–     Lord Acton

Today’s Free Downloads:

RetroShare 0.5.5b – RetroShare is a Open Source cross-platform, private and secure decentralised communication platform. It lets you to securely chat and share files with your friends and family, using a web-of-trust to authenticate peers and OpenSSL to encrypt all communication.

Directory Monitor – You can use Directory Monitor for the surveillance of certain directories and it will notify you of file changes, deletions, modifications, and new files in real-time. You can optionally execute an application when a change occurs.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit BETA – Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit BETA, protects you from zero-day exploits targeting browser and application vulnerabilities. Its proprietary technology shields your browser and applications in that critical period between the release of a new exploit and its subsequent security patch. Easy to install and lightweight. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit BETA now and crush the most dangerous breed of malware attack.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Feinstein debuts NSA “reform” bill that’s really about the status quo – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has been one of the most stalwart defenders of widespread NSA surveillance since leaks with information about the programs started seeping out nearly five months ago. Civil libertarians and reformers have been none too pleased with her rhetoric—and they’re not going to get any happier after reading the bill she introduced today. The FISA Improvements Act has already attracted plenty of critics who view it as no improvement at all. In fact, they say, Feinstein’s bill would make things much worse.

Calls To Limit Speech In The Snowden Era Underscore The Importance Of A Free Press – The Snowden leaks have done more than uncover a secret world of surveillance. They are starting to drive change at the congressional level. Following revelations that the NSA taps the fiber-optic cables of the Internet, tracks the metadata of all phone calls placed in the United States, and forces technology companies to hand over user data, we’ve entered into a new era of transparency. There are forces arrayed against this trend, however. The parts of the government that wish to remain hidden are not enjoying their time in the spotlight.

NSA hid spy equipment at embassies, consulates – Foreign embassies and consulates belonging to the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia have been used to collect signals intelligence, with the spy installations often hidden within the buildings.

How the NSA’s MUSCULAR tapped Google’s and Yahoo’s private networks – The NSA already has access to selected content on Google and Yahoo through its PRISM program. But much of that raw traffic is encrypted, and the PRISM requests are relatively limited in scope. So the NSA went looking for a way to get the same sort of access to encrypted traffic to cloud providers that it had with unencrypted raw Internet traffic. The solution that the NSA and the GCHQ devised was to tap into the networks of the providers themselves as they crossed international borders.

Senate panel approves bill to continue NSA surveillance – The proposed bill would allow the NSA to continue collecting millions of U.S. telephone records, despite an outcry that the program violates the U.S. Constitution.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

8 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 1, 2013

  1. delenn13

    Hi Bill,

    I got the email about my “vanity url” on Google+. For some reason, I am just not sure I want to participate. I just have this feeling there is some hidden agenda. Google is not “the good guys” anymore.

    So NOW, it’s not hacking, snooping or spying. It’s “lawful intrusion.” WOW! I feel better already.

    Here is a cool game/book/film bundle. I may just get it for the Harlan Ellison(Because I just love the old canterous coot. He was hilarious as the Computer’s voice in Babylon 5.) game, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream“(Loved the story) . All the other stuff is a bonus.

    VODO: Big Brother Bundle

    • Hey Delenn13,

      My usual over-the-weekend slow response – sorry. 🙂

      Totally agree – Google is not “the good guys” anymore. Still, it’s a logical progression towards the day we will all have a multipurpose “digital tattoo.” It’s coming.

      Yeah – “lawful intrusion” has a – good guy, you can trust us – glossy feel to it. It’s a lie nevertheless.



  2. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Good to see that the Nexus 5 phone has been released at last. The two things I like about the Nexus range of devices are, first they are not stuffed full of bloatware that cannot be uninstalled; this is especially annoying when there is no expandable memory. Second they are first in line for Android updates.

    I’m very happy with my Nexus 7 tablet and will be most interested to see what the reviewers have to say about the 5.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    Kind regards

    • Hi John,

      Thanks – I spent the weekend preparing the garden for Winter (just in time – minus 5 at the moment). And, totally away from the Net (without withdrawal symptoms, I might add. 🙂 )

      The Nexus 5 will be a sure winner – the tech specs are mighty impressive (to say the least).



      • John Bent

        Hi Bill,

        Yes the specs are great unless, that is, you like to take a lot of photos on your phone; 8mp doesn’t cut it in these days of Nokia’s huge 41mp. Not that resolution is the be-all and end-all, but it is what a lot of people will judge by.

        Myself, I like to take photos with a camera and have been blown away by my Sony HX50.

        Actually had my hands on a Nexus 5 today and it felt good, if a lot bigger than I’m used to with its 5” display. Incredibly light though; have a feelling it will be winging my way before long 🙂

        Keep warm.

        Kind regards,

        • Hi John,

          I often carry my PlayBook in hand (5×7.5 inches), and I must admit that it draws the strangest looks given it’s size. It’ll be interesting to see the reaction to these new mega-size phablets.



  3. Kilroy_Lives

    Reblogged this on My Wireless Technology and commented:
    It’s about time the FCC got with the times and understands the importantance of utilizing devices for users that use their time while in flight for business pursuits. I do fully support being safe and cautious. It seems for the past several years much had been documented on the safety of using devices in flight. In the connected society that we live in, it was a long awaited and now cheered decision.