Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 5, 2013

Fix Windows – piece by piece;  Video chat on TV;  Huge toolbox – Android phone;  Linux – right for you?;  Multiboot Installer;  Three tools stop companies spying;  How to use your tech in public;  10 great games for old PCs;  Cryptolocker adds a $2000 late payment;  Schmidt Lambasts NSA Over Spying;  Speed up a slow PC – no new hardware.

When Windows breaks: How to fix it, piece by piece – Windows is so customizable, it’s tempting to tinker. Don’t like Internet Explorer’s default feel? There are settings for that! Hate the way Windows 8’s Ribbon UI looks? Tweak away! There’s usually no need to hit an irritating fly with that great, big “clean install” sledgehammer! Read this before you burn your installation to the ground and start all over.

A huge toolbox for your Android smartphone – Every once in a while, a tool like this will cross my desk and catch my attention, such as All-In-One Toolbox. This particular application offers 27 different tools for your Android smartphone, and it does so without the usual cumbersome or intrusive style of most other, similar tools. All-In-One Toolbox focuses on system cleaning and optimization, and it does a good job with both.

Don’t be that guy: How to use your tech in public – Technology isn’t responsible for the decline of civility and manners, but it sure hasn’t helped any. If anything, it’s made it easier to be obnoxious in public. With that in mind, we compiled a list of annoying tech habits that you really should get over. Like, yesterday.

10 great games for crummy old PCs – So you have an old, underpowered PC. Even if you have a hand-me-down computer from the Paleolithic Era, you can still enjoy a hearty helping of fun games. Check out this collection that will keep you playing for hours without giving your PC a stress-induced heart attack.

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Great ways to video chat on a TV – Don’t get stuck behind a small screen when trying to stay in touch with loved ones. Here’s how you can get Skype and other services on your TV.

How to decide if Linux is right for you – Had it up to here with Windows? Can’t take another “blue screen of death”? Another 10-minute wait for your laptop to boot? Another spyware or virus hassle? Heck, maybe you just think Microsoft got it so far wrong with Windows 8.1, it’s time for a change. In fact, maybe it’s time for Linux. The open-source operating system offers users a Windows-like alternative with a few key advantages.

Three tools to stop companies spying on your web browsing – Want to limit the ability of companies to track what sites you visit online? Check out these tools that shut down common ways used to track browsing habits.

Google Launches Helpouts, Paid Video Chats With Experts To Address Whatever Is Bothering You Right Now – Helpouts, Google’s fusion of Google+ Hangouts, Google Wallet, and its identity tools is now live. A ‘Helpout’ is a Hangout-like video chat, but instead of speaking with a friend, you are connected to a purported expert in whatever it is that you need help with. The tagline that Google has come up with for Helpouts is “real help from real people in real time.”

Google Launches Virtual Field Trips Via New Google+ Connected Classrooms Feature – Field trips generally venture only as far afield as the local heritage village, where you’re likely to catch pilgrim ‘Ezekial’ behind the butter churning hut sneaking a modern-day cigarette. Google wants to offer a more far-reaching experience, with a new Connected Classrooms initiative that lets classes take “virtual field trips” using Google+ Hangouts.

Speed up a slow PC without buying new hardware – If a once-fast computer has slowed to a crawl, you can’t really blame the hardware. Sure, you may be able to improve speed by adding RAM, upgrading the CPU, or replacing the hard drive with an SSD. But none of those solutions–all of which cost money–address the underlying problem. Your hardware isn’t underpowered. It’s overloaded. Cleaning out Windows will very likely speed up a PC. And no, I’m not suggesting reinstalling the operating system. There are less drastic fixes.

Five mostly free mass mailing applications – Reaching large numbers of customers, clients, or members takes special tools. Here are five applications that can facilitate mass mailings.

Top 5 annoying profile photos and how to fix them – These avatars and photos annoy the heck out of everyone else; consider these alternatives if this description sounds like you.

10 reasons you should offer remote support to your clients – For consultants and IT help pros who support multiple clients, the standard model of on-site visits not only can get tiresome, but it can also become expensive and less than efficient. That is why adding remote support to your options can be a real boon to your business. Not only will your clients appreciate the additional options, you will find the convenience brings a bit of sanity back into your work day.

Twitter a news source? Not so much – A new Pew survey shows only 16 percent of US adults use Twitter and only 8 percent use the social network for news. But these users tend to be young, educated, and wealthy.

Security:

Just how bad are the top 100 passwords from the Adobe hack? (Hint: think really, really bad) – A new analysis of Adobe user passwords leaked after its hack last month reveals yet again that most people prefer avoid complexity when it comes to passwords.

Cryptolocker malware adds a $2000 late payment option – The Cryptolocker malware has evolved once again. Now its creators are offering a way for victims who decided not to pay up within the initial ransom period to get their files back.

Secunia Country Reports – The Secunia Country Reports tell you how much vulnerable software is present on private PCs in your country, plus a few extra, interesting facts.

Should NSA influence your business cloud buying decisions? – Our IT security experts debate the impact that NSA surveillance revelations can have on your business.

Company News:

IBM Claims Twitter Infringes On At Least 3 Of Its Patents – As Twitter embarks on its initial public offering roadshow, the company has issued another update to its S-1 today with a curveball. IBM has recently issued a letter to Twitter alleging that it infringes on “at least three U.S. patents” held by IBM, “inviting us to negotiate a business resolution of the allegations.”

Microsoft debuts new ‘Honestly’ media campaign – Microsoft has uploaded two new TV commercials, one for Surface 2 and one for Windows 8.1 running on the Lenovo 11S laptop-notebook hybrid, that are based around the word ‘honestly’.

New BlackBerry boss says company will keep its handset division – John S. Chen, the new interim CEO of BlackBerry, said in an interview today that the company will keep its handset division but offered no further details on how he will turn BlackBerry around.

iPass Launches Windows Phone 8 Mobile App for Global Enterprise Wi-Fi Connectivity – Available as a free download from the Windows Store, iPass Open Mobile for Windows Phone 8 provides employees with seamless connectivity to the world’s largest commercial Wi-Fi network of more than 1.4 million hotspots, including in-flight Internet, hotels, airports and business venues around the world.

Microsoft and Apple unleash thermonuclear war on Google and Android – Former Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs promised to “destroy Android” because it was “a stolen product” and said that he was “willing to go thermonuclear war” on the platform. This could be that war.

Games and Entertainment:

Nintendo Wii Mini Headed to the U.S. For $99.99 – The scaled-down system will hit store shelves by the middle of November, though Nintendo warned that availability will differ by location. The Wii mini is matte black with a red border and comes with the Mario Kart Wii game, a red Wii Remote Plus controller, and a red Nunchuk controller.

Call of Duty: Ghosts hacked already, aimbots and wall hacks implemented – Call of Duty: Ghosts isn’t expected to go on sale until tomorrow, but that hasn’t stopped a few copies being sold or leaked early. And it didn’t take long for someone to rip, crack, and upload copies of the game online. What followed was some quick work to implement aimbots, wall hacks, speed increases, and modifications to the scoring system that sees massive XP gains for every kill made.

PS4 gains another launch day game, Xbox One loses one – Sony announced that EA’s racing game Need For Speed Rivals will be a launch title for the PlayStation 4, while PopCap has confirmed that Peggle 2 will not be an Xbox One launch game as first announced.

Google game Ingress gets serious: Beta ends December 14 – Those dedicated enough to the Google game Ingress thus far will find a lovely badge waiting for them once the game leaves Beta mode on the 14th of December. It’s there that players that have reached level 5 will be getting a “Founders” badge while the rest of the world walks in their wake. Google also let it be known this week that the top five “most Elite”.

Valve’s prototype Steam Machine revealed; more announcements at CES 2014 – The first images showing off the prototype Steam Machine that Valve is sending to 300 beta testers have been revealed and Valve will have more Steam Machine announcements at CES 2014 in January.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Virgin America Makes A Safety Video That’s Now A YouTube Hit – Last week, Virgin America launched of all things, a safety video that has become a YouTube hit with now more than 4 million views. It’s a musical that makes buckling a seat beat seem like fun. It celebrates the experience of flying with a focus on the fundamentals of safety that only a company like Virgin can pull off.

Microsoft giving away free IT training – and a job – to soldiers – In a bid to help soldiers transition from the military to civilian life, Microsoft is offering a free IT training for soldiers in the military, plus a job.

Apple’s Tim Cook Is Right, Anti-Gay Policies Hurt The Economy – The elusive CEO of the richest company in the world, Apple’s Tim Cook, has taken a rare step into the spotlight to urge Congress to ban sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. In a Wall Street Journal OpEd, Cook argues that passing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act is not only a moral imperative, but sound economic policy.

5 celebrity tech endorsements that flopped – When a tech company hires a celebrity to endorse their product, you would think it should help boost sales.. but sometimes the result is a flop and can actually hurt the brand image.

Gender gap: Why information security needs more women – A new report on infosec spotted significant differences in how men and women prioritize needed skills. Women only represent 11 percent of the Information-Security workforce which is discordant with other professions where women are near parity with men. According to the report. The report did not go into detail as to why the dramatic difference, but did say it was crucial that the status quo change.

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God – The more scientifically literate, intellectually honest and objectively skeptical a person is, the more likely they are to disbelieve in anything supernatural, including god. These films are part of a compilation of some of the best examples of such individuals, and their thoughts on the divine. All the speakers featured are elite academics and professors at top institutions, some of whom are also Nobel Laureates. (suggested by Michael F.)

Something to think about:

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.”

–     Patrick Young

Today’s Free Downloads:

RAMDisk 4.3.0 RC1 – RAMDisk is Freeware (up to 4GB disk size). It creates a virtual RAM drive, or block of memory, which your computer treats as if it were a disk drive. By storing files and programs into memory, you can speed up internet load times and disk-to-disk activities, accelerate databases and reduce compile times. Save and load features allow RAMDisk to appear as persistent storage, even through reboots.

YUMI 1.9.9.0 – Your Universal Multiboot Installer is the successor to MultibootISOs. It can be used to create a Multiboot USB Flash Drive containing multiple operating systems, antivirus utilities, disc cloning, diagnostic tools, and more. Contrary to MultiBootISO’s which used grub to boot ISO files directly from USB, YUMI uses syslinux to boot extracted distributions stored on the USB device, and reverts to using grub to Boot Multiple ISO files from USB, if necessary.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google’s Eric Schmidt Lambasts NSA Over Spying – Mr. Schmidt said Google had registered complaints with the NSA, as well as President Barack Obama and members of the U.S. Congress. “The NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be a risk. It’s just bad public policy…and perhaps illegal,” he said. Mr. Schmidt said in the interview that the right balance of security and privacy starts with finding the appropriate level of oversight. “There clearly are cases where evil people exist, but you don’t have to violate the privacy of every single citizen of America to find them,” he said.

Intel Agency Lawyers Urge Retention of Secret Data – Senior national security lawyers on Monday told an independent oversight board examining U.S. surveillance programs that the government needs to keep its trove of innocent Americans’ telephone records despite growing efforts in Congress to shut down the program. The lawyers also told the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board during a hearing that a secret overseas Internet data-gathering program exposed last week was not an attempt to evade scrutiny by a federal intelligence court that supervises such operations.

NSA directorship to go civilian, report asserts – The NSA directorship might revert from a military to a civilian post, The Hill has reported. The Pentagon “has already drawn up a list of possible civilian candidates for the next NSA director,” the report said, although “no formal decision has been made yet.” The NSA directorship would relinquish authority over Cyber Command, and a separate military officer would be appointed to Cyber Command. If the report is correct, the change would represent a planet-shaking change at the NSA, which since 1971 by law has been directed by military officers.

US intelligence officials: NSA reform bill is ‘flawed’ – Government officials say a recent bill to stop the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone records would hurt the agency’s ability to catch terrorists.

NSA chief may lose US Cyber Command role – Separating the two positions could help keep abuses of power in check, as the NSA works to win back the public’s trust.

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