Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 6, 2013

$50 Android tablet Black Friday 2013 deal;  Fix your PC’s worst annoyances;  Microsoft – attacks on Windows Vista, Lync, Office; Target $200 iPad Trade-In Deal; Build a standing desk in 20 minutes; Marijuana is safer than alcohol; Check if your Adobe account hacked; Flipp app – flyers to your phone or tablet; Public Supports NSA Spying On Their Email, Neighbors And Foreign Leaders.

Get ready for the $50 Android tablet Black Friday 2013 deal – again – Specials from Walmart and Toys “R” Us list no-name 7-inch slates for cut-rate prices coming for the holiday shopping season. Will you be buying one?

How to fix your PC’s worst annoyances – Windows oozes with all sorts of hackle-raising “features” that interfere with just plain using your PC. But don’t chuck your monitor across the room! By the time you’re done reading this article, your headaches should be gone.

The phablet-ization of the smartphone – The trend toward large-touchscreen smartphones — 5-in. and above — reached its highest level yet in the third quarter, as they accounted for 22% of all smartphones shipped worldwide. That means that 56 million large-screen smartphones, driven mainly by Samsung, shipped in the quarter, said research firm Canalys.

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

Quick Tip: Change Microsoft live to a local account in Windows 8.1 – Since the Windows 8.1 update, I have been asked many times how to change a Microsoft live account into a local account without losing data. Here is how you do it.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Flipp app delivers store flyers to your phone or tablet – Now you can browse all your local weekly circulars, focusing on items that have the biggest discounts and clipping those you want to save.

Target Offering $200 iPad Trade-In Deal – Target is running a promotion that will provide those who trade in their old iPad with a gift card worth at least $200. From now until Nov. 9, those who visit a Target Mobility store and trade in their iPad will get “at least $200” to use toward the purchase of a new iPad Air or other Target merchandise.

Anonymous’ ‘Million Mask March’ goes global – The protests were scheduled for 450 cities and towns worldwide — from Tampa, Fla., to Amsterdam to Mumbai. According to the group’s Facebook page, the demonstrations were meant to help people “remember who your enemies are: billionaires who own banks and corporations who corrupt politicians who enslave the people in injustice.”

Thought you didn’t need to show ID in the UK? Wrong: Your papers please. NOW – Britain may be a country without ID cards, but British officialdom has plenty of reasons for requiring your papers, please – usually a passport or a driving licence – other than for crossing a border or driving a vehicle.

Stream Nation is a private media cloud, with lending privileges – Stream Nation doesn’t care where you got that movie file. As long as you own it now, you can store it, stream it, and even share it with friends like you would a physical copy.

Face scanning cameras installed at 450 UK Tesco petrol stations – No less than 450 Tesco petrol stations around the UK have been fitted with face scanning cameras that enable them to beam tailor-made advertising to you, while you fill up.

Twitter’s news junkies are younger, more educated – Nearly one in 10 U.S. adults, or 8%, say they get some of their news through Twitter, and that has to be a good sign for the social media company that’s days from launching its IPO. Twitter users also are younger, more apt to use mobile devices and more educated. However, more than 30% of Facebook users say they get some of their news from the world’s largest social network.

The 140 Moments That Made Twitter Matter – As Twitter’s multibillion-dollar IPO looms, we surveyed TIME staff to pick 140 essential tweets—and hashtags and @-replies and more—that helped Twitter become a global phenomenon.

Video gaming boosts certain brain regions, study says – Play more video games. Researchers put Super Mario 64 to the test on a small sample of gamers and find it increases gray matter in some areas of the brain.

‘Disarming Corruptor’ disguises 3D printing designs to fight The Man – A new encryption tool promises to help users skirt some of the legal and copyright taboos of 3D printing.

World Cybersecurity Leaders Call for Cooperation – Governments and businesses spend $1 trillion a year for global cybersecurity, but unlike wartime casualties or oil spills, there’s no clear idea what the total losses are because few will admit they’ve been compromised. Cybersecurity leaders from more than 40 countries are gathering at Stanford University this week to consider tackling that information gap by creating a single, trusted entity that would keep track of how much hackers steal.


Microsoft warns of targeted attacks on Windows Vista, Lync, Office, and more – In a rare out-of-schedule security advisory, Microsoft has posted word that it has become aware of targeted attacks on a newly found exploit that affects many of its currently supported software programs. They include Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2003 through 2010, and all supported versions of Microsoft Lync. In a blog post today, Microsoft stated the current attacks have been reported mostly in the Middle East and South Asia

A-list celebs, biz barons’ privates EXPOSED in limo hire hack – Personal information, financial records and salacious details about 850,000 celebrities, top executives and other customers were swiped by hackers from a limo-booking software company, it is claimed. Fortune-500 chief execs and A-list celebs are believed to be among those whose credit card details and addresses were dumped in a plain-text archive on the same servers that housed source code and private data slurped from Adobe and PR Newswire by miscreants.

How to check if your Adobe account was hacked – While Adobe’s calm and collected customer “alert” says that only about 2.9 million records were stolen, the actual tally is slightly higher than that. It’s really about 150 million. And no, your password wasn’t stored securely. So how do you know if your email and password were stolen during the hack? Easy. Just type it into the text field on and click the search button. Spoiler alert: if you had an Adobe account, there’s a very, very strong chance your email will be found.

Google finally hides passwords from snoopers in new builds of Chromium – After denying any problem, Google adds option to protect plain text passwords. Chrome still makes passwords viewable in plain text by default, but the latest build of Chromium for Mac—the open source browser from which Chrome draws its code—gives users a new way to protect their passwords.

Spike in traffic with TCP source port zero has some researchers worried – A significant increase this weekend in TCP traffic with source port zero detected could be part of reconnaissance efforts in preparation for more serious attacks, according to security researchers from Cisco Systems.

Senators question security at – U.S. lawmakers questioned the security of, the U.S. government’s troubled insurance-shopping website, after reports that one applicant’s personal information was shared with another applicant. goof up pushes headline a bit premature – appears to have been hacked and the homepage has been defaced with multiple banners and front page stories that are clearly not legitimate.

Company News:

Lavabit Founder Takes To Kickstarter To Open Source A New End-To-End Encryption Messaging Protocol – Ladar Levison, founder of the now shuttered secure email provider Lavabit, has taken to Kickstarter to resurrect the concept of secure email in a new, open source form, called the project Dark Mail initiative. A not-for-profit organisation called the Dark Mail Alliance, with Lavabit and Silent Circle as founder members, has also been set up to steer the project.

The rise of Tizen: A new competitor in the mobile market segment – Tizen, the mobile OS developed by Samsung and the Linux Foundation, appears to be heading towards an initial device offering for consumers.

Sync, BitTorrent’s Server-Less Dropbox Competitor, Hits 1M Active Users, Now Available As An API – BitTorrent is hoping to turn up the volume on that usage: today it’s releasing its first Sync API, which will let developers incorporate the service into their own apps as a way for users to access and share data.

Acer CEO resigns amid plans for restructuring and layoffs – Acer CEO J.T. Wang is resigning from his post at the Taiwanese PC maker and will be replaced by president Jim Wong as part of a corporate restructuring that will try to revitalize the company’s sagging fortunes.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Upcoming Consoles Compared – The next generation of game systems is finally upon us. The Sony PlayStation 4 arrives on November 15, while Microsoft’s Xbox One is coming out November 22. This is what we know about both systems.

Call of Duty: Ghosts launches globally for Xbox 360 and PS3 – Activision has announced the official launch of its video game called Call of Duty: Ghosts around the world. Ghosts promises a new story and new innovations for multiple player gaming using a next-generation game engine promising improved graphics. Ghosts marks the first time in the Call of Duty franchise where players are the underdog against an enemy with superior numbers and firepower.

11 things we learned from Valve’s latest Steam Machine PR push – Recently, Valve invited a few select news outlets to its headquarters in Bellevue, Washington to get some hands-on time with the recently announced prototype Steam Machine and the companion controller. While Ars wasn’t among the outlets included, that doesn’t mean we can’t scour the reports for new information about Valve’s upcoming hardware plans. Here are the most important tidbits we’ve discovered.

Three more glorious minutes of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – If you’ve found yourself eagerly soaking up anything you can find about the second installment of The Hobbit that is soon coming to theaters, look no further. Warner Bros has put a new teaser up that paints a pretty clear picture of the grand scale we can expect from the upcoming film.

Anomaly 2 Hits iOS with Awesome Reverse-Tower Defense Action – Tower defense has been done to death, but Anomaly was a breath of fresh air that turned the genre on its head. Now Anomaly 2 has arrived on iOS with very much the same engaging gameplay that puts you in the role of the creeps, trying to avoid being annihilated by the defense towers. To top it off, the fate of humanity is at stake. No pressure, though.

Off Topic (Sort of):

20 questions every IT pro should answer before going out on their own – Before you resign from your full-time IT job to start a tech consulting firm, answer these questions to determine how well you’ve thought through this career change.

Spend 20 bucks, build yourself an adjustable standing desk in 20 minutes – You probably know that sitting on your butt all day isn’t good for you, but you might not realize just how bad it is. According to one frightening study, people who spent more than 11 hours per day in a chair were 40 percent more likely to die within the next three years, compared with those who sat for 4 hours.

India’s breakthrough mission to Mars – The country’s first-ever mission to Mars launches into space ready to explore the Red Planet’s surface, atmosphere, and exosphere.

A journey to life’s beginnings: Adam Rutherford’s new book looks at how life began and how it’s being remade – Life, biologists would tell us, is one of the last great mysteries. It is hard to define, even in an “I know it when I see it” fashion, making it tricky to study. Yet, as I sit here at a scientific meeting, I take some comfort that I am not alone in my ignorance. The concluding slide of the last presentation clearly demonstrates that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

Something to think about:

I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.”

–      Michael Crichton

Today’s Free Downloads:

Extra Keys 2.1.0 – This small Windows desktop tool enables easy input of letters and symbols that may not appear on your normal keyboard. Type any accented characters for French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Scandinavian languages. Also many other special symbols – this small Windows desktop tool enables easy input of letters and symbols that may not appear on your normal keyboard.

Tweak-7 1.0 Build 1185 – Customize and tweak Windows 7 to fit your needs. From startmenu, to desktop tweaks, from taskbar customization to system tweaks.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Poll: Public Supports NSA Spying On Their Email, Neighbors And Foreign Leaders – Despite a torrent of outrage from the press, world leaders, and the United States Congress, most Americans still approve of the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices. Most importantly, public opinion barely budged a percentage point since the NSA’s global phone and Internet spy network was first revealed. We even polled whether Americans support the near universally condemned practice of spying on European allies. Yep, they support that one, too.

US officials say forget about clemency for Snowden – If it wasn’t already clear that the US government was unhappy with National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden—and the feds want him extradited, President Obama denounced him—it is now. Today, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and her House counterpart, Mike Rogers (R-MI), both emphasized there would be no mercy coming from Washington.

Privacy group files OECD complaints over UK telco spying – Privacy International has filed complaints against U.K. telecommunications companies for assisting British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) with mass interception of telephone and Internet traffic that passes through undersea fiber optic cables.

Don’t Compare The Brazilian Spying Case To The NSA’s Mass Surveillance Efforts – Earlier today a Brazilian newspaper broke the story that ABIN, the top intelligence agency in that country, has employed low-tech spying techniques on foreign diplomats. This is sticky for the country as it has been intensely critical of the NSA and its practices of mass surveillance the world around. If the NSA is spying, and ABIN is spying, do we come to a wash, all walking away simply saying that everyone spies, so calm down? Not in the least.

Brazilian government justifies its own spying activities – Russia, Iran and Iraq have been monitored for several months; Justice Minister says the program was “legal”.

Apple Files With U.S. Government For More Information Request Transparency As It Releases First Report – In conjunction with this report, Apple has joined other companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn and Yahoo in filing an Amicus brief requesting more transparency be allowed in disclosing requests in the U.S. Apple has disclosed that it has had 719 total requests worldwide, and between 1,000 and 2,000 in the U.S. Those requests encompassed 769 different accounts worldwide, and between 2,000 and 3,000 in the U.S. Apple complied with 225 total account requests worldwide, and between 0 and 1,000 in the U.S.

EU justice chief: Europe should have its own spy agency to counter NSA snooping – Fight fire with fire, suggests EU vice-president and justice chief Viviane Reding, who in an interview with Greek media floated a European spying agency to counter the NSA.

Antivirus bods grilled: Do YOU turn a blind eye to government spyware? – Analysis Security guru Bruce Schneier has joined with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 23 other privacy and digital rights activists to call on antivirus firms to publicly state they do not turn a blind eye towards state-sponsored malware. Meanwhile neutral observers of the security software market point out there’s no need for spy agencies to ask for their malware to be whitelisted by vendors because defences aren’t that strong in the first place.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

10 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 6, 2013

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    “Poll: Public Supports NSA Spying On Their Email, Neighbors And Foreign Leaders”
    I used to think polls were often wrong, but they are, in fact, quite accurate. I would say the media and schools have done their job in dumbing down the average American. “They Hate us for our freedoms” One of the saddest remarks ever made. The American body politic are DUMBASSES obsessed with the trivial, and they get what they deserve, sadly, we ALL end up getting it, even those of us who have believed in TRUE FREEDOM. The Founding Fathers, imperfect they may have been, must be rolling in their graves.

    ” Antivirus bods grilled: Do YOU turn a blind eye to government spyware?”
    Is there any doubt???

    • Hi Fred,

      It’s true – the capacity to think in a non-linear fashion seems to have become a lost skill (and yes, the education system wears part of the blame).

      There’s little doubt that the media plays into this with great appetite. Hard news, as entertainment, is the order of the day.

      As for the Founding Fathers – it seems to me that those in power would be wise to remember that those men eventually turned to armed resistance to overthrow a crushing political system. History has a habit of repeating itself.



  2. delenn13

    Hi Bill,

    “As for the Founding Fathers – it seems to me that those in power would be wise to remember that those men eventually turned to armed resistance to overthrow a crushing political system. History has a habit of repeating itself.”

    The “armed resistance” part may be a bit dicey with everyone wanting gun control. Rocks and bow and arrows won’t cut it. Seems to me, you can’t have the cake and eat it too in this scenario.

    I used to be for gun control until I saw that scene in Red Dawn….where all they did is go to the office and get “the list” of all gun owners and then round up all the guns.

    • Hey Delenn13,

      I fully understand your reversal re: the gun control issue, having undergone the same metamorphosis here. I don’t own a gun, or a weapon of any sort – but, given the present tyranny of governments worldwide, I’m supportive of those who defend the right to gun ownership.

      I do not however, support the marginally moronic gun laws common in many American states. Florida – Texas – Arizona – just some examples.



      • delenn13

        Hi Bill,

        Yea, that “Stand Your Own Ground” is a loose cannon.Pardon the pun. I did own a gun because of break ins. Not here though.

        Growing up in Florida, I was raised with guns. I was shooting at the age of 5 and knew how to clean it…etc. But I was taught to RESPECT a gun and it’s power. Never point a gun at something unless you knew what it was and intended to use it. It wasn’t a toy.

        I think people should have to go through an intense training course before owning or using a gun. And should also have to take some kind of mental test. It seems that every time that is a involves someone who has mental issues. And guns should be locked up ……..especially if there are children in the house.