Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 7, 2013

Windows 8.1 free to non-profits;  KitKat quick-start guide;  Windows XP antivirus updates ending;  5 speech recognition programs;  Is your encryption truly secure?;  Silk Road resurrected;  10 patches, five critical, for Firefox; Security’s weakest link;  Call of Duty: $1 billion on first day;  Free Junkware Removal Tool;  Googlers say “F*** you” to NSA.

Microsoft to end Windows XP antivirus updates – Microsoft is doing its level best to get Windows XP holdouts to upgrade to a newer operating system. No new patches will arrive after April 8, 2014, and now the company is pondering cutting off antivirus updates at that point, too.

Five most useful apps for travel – The very thought of having to travel for business makes most cringe. You’re away from your family, familiar surroundings, the amenities of normalcy – it can send you into a frenzy of anxiety. Let’s take a look at five tools that could easily make your business travel much more efficient, productive, and successful.

5 lesser-known browsers: Free, lightweight and low-maintenance – Popular browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome have lots of features — and can take up lots of memory. We look at 5 lesser-known browsers for simpler surfing.

Google dumps Windows Vista support from Google Apps – By eliminating support for Internet Explorer 9 from its Google Apps, Google has indirectly prevented Windows Vista users from using Google’s cloud services to full effect.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

SwiftKey Android Keyboard Gets Big Update That Unifies Tablets and Phones – While stock Android keyboards have vastly improved in the last year or two, there are still some extremely popular third-party replacements available in the Play Store. SwiftKey has long been at the top of the heap when it comes to Android input, and it has just gotten a major update that unifies the phone and tablet apps while also adding some much needed features.

Get the KitKat quick-start guide – Google’s official guide on using Android 4.4 KitKat is available for download right now. Here’s how to get it.

Control your PC with these 5 speech recognition programs – We found five Windows-based options worth a test drive. They were tested under pretty rugged conditions, too: my native Scottish brogue, and my German accent honed by 13 years spent in Wuerzburg. While none was quite able to slay the powerful Dragon, they could still be useful for many tasks.

Is your encryption truly secure? TrueCrypt audit effort smashes fundraising goals – Privacy geeks the world over rely on TrueCrypt to encrypt their most private data, but the program’s bones have never been thoroughly poked over. That’s changing soon.

Google to display Google+ photos of your callers – The new phone app in Android 4.4 KitKat can link people with their Google+ photos so you can sneak a peek at the person calling you.

Microsoft expands Office Web Apps functionality – Microsoft has declared Thursday, Nov. 7, to be “Get It Done Day,” and in that spirit it’s rolling out significant changes for Office Web Apps, the free Web-based complements of the core Microsoft Office applications.

Hula hopes to make hookup apps more responsible — and the STD talk a little more fun – What we euphemistically call “dating apps” are becoming incredibly popular because they find people in your vicinity who are DTF (down to, uh, flirt). That’s where Hula comes in. The new iOS app is piggybacking on the success of hookup apps by letting users share their STD test results in a fun, millennial-friendly way—or as fun as you can possibly get when you’re talking about chlamydia. (Bollocks! Sharing “STD test results in a fun, millennial-friendly way.” Let me out of this lunatic asylum!)

Roman Ruins HD for iPad Takes You On a Tour of 350 Ancient Locations – Not everyone can afford a quick jaunt around the Mediterranean to view the ruins of ancient Rome, but there’s a new iPad app that offers a reasonably facsimile without the whole traveling the world aspect. Roman Ruins HD includes 1,500 images of ruins from all over the Mediterranean with massive pillars, detailed stonework, and more.

Silk Road is resurrected with a new Dread Pirate Roberts – Deja vu? A new online drug marketplace appears as Silk Road 2.0 with an operator using the same pseudonym as the original site’s alleged operator.

End of an era: DISH to close remaining US Blockbuster stores – DISH has announced that it will close the 300 or so remaining Blockbuster retail stores in the U.S. by early January 2014, while also shutting down the Blockbuster By Mail DVD service in December.

Samba TV releases new second-screen and TV apps for Sony devices – Samba TV, formerly known as Flingo, today released a slew of apps for Sony devices, including Bravia TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, and Blu-ray Home Theater devices patched into Sony Entertainment Network. The apps detect what is playing on your connected smart TV and automatically push related interactive content, which can then be accessed on second-screen devices such as smartphones and tablets or via the TV.

‘Million Mask’ marchers make noise (pictures) – Hundreds of protesters around the world don masks in what the hacking collective Anonymous called the “Million Mask March.”


Mozilla releases 10 patches, five critical, for Firefox – Mozilla released 10 patches for three versions of its Firefox browser on Tuesday, five of which are considered critical and could be used to remotely install malicious code. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned that the problems “could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code, bypass intended access restrictions, cause a denial-of-service condition or obtain sensitive information.”

iOS App Vulnerability Could Let Attackers Hijack Your Apps – During a Main-in-the-Middle attack, someone hijacks your connection to a secure site, receiving everything sent by either party and passing it along, possibly with malicious changes. But a MITM attack ends when you disconnect from the network. Not so any longer says Yair Amit from Skycure (the guys who hacked my iPhone). They’ve apparently uncovered a vulnerability that can permanently change the behavior of apps in iOS.

Security’s weakest link: Technology no match for social engineering – A security researcher says there is a 100-percent success rate any time pen-testing uses social engineering to target victims. Here are some of the techniques used.

Android insecure? Blame those free apps you never asked for – Android vendors are free to pre-install apps but they’re not doing a very good job securing them.

Now there’s a bug bounty program for the whole Internet – Microsoft and Facebook are sponsoring a new program that pays big cash rewards to whitehat hackers who uncover security bugs threatening the stability of the Internet at large. To qualify, the bugs must affect software implementations from a variety of companies, potentially result in severely negative consequences for the general public, and manifest themselves across a wide base of users.

Company News:

Twitter sets IPO price at $26 – The company said Wednesday that it plans to sell 70 million shares to the public starting Thursday. Underwriters have the option to sell an additional 10.5 million shares during the first 30 days. With the price announced, all eyes will be on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday morning to gauge investor reaction and demand for the stock, which will trade under the symbol TWTR.

Google’s secret proposals leaked as dismay over EU antitrust inquiry grows – Despite the threat of sanctions, at least one of Google’s rivals has leaked the search giant’s full proposals that seek to avoid an antitrust fine from European authorities.

With 30K Active Online Stores, Weebly Launches DIY eCommerce Platform To Take On Amazon And Shopify – Launching today, Weebly’s new eCommerce platform aims to bring simple online store creation to the masses, Rusenko says, and will provide businesses access to a mobile store and checkout, filtered product search advanced merchandising and an integrated shopping cart. The company’s new eCommerce tools will be available for free, which includes support for businesses selling up to five products.

Microsoft offers Windows 8.1 for free to non-profit organizations – Microsoft has announced it is now making Windows 8.1 available for free to non-profit organizations and public libraries through their Corporate Citizenship software donation program.

Intel forms ‘Internet of Things’ division – Intel, eager to not be left behind like it was with smartphones and tablets, is forming an ‘Internet of Things’ division in an attempt to position itself to be able to capitalize from connected devices.

Games and Entertainment:

Call of Duty: Ghosts achieves $1 billion in sales on first day – When GTA V launched back in September the initial estimates predicted it could make $1 billion in its first month on sale. The game surpassed that total in just three days. But while the GTA franchise may be big, it’s quite possible that Call of Duty is bigger. Activision is reporting over $1 billion worth of sales of Call of Duty: Ghosts in the first 24 hours.

Two top PC games gain Linux support ahead of SteamOS – Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS hasn’t arrived just yet, nor have the company’s living room-ready “Steam Machines,” but a couple of notable game developers have already prepared Linux ports of their hit titles. This week, Metro: Last Light and Super Meat Boy both got the open-source OS treatment.

Name your price for six action-packed Warner Bros games, help charity – The new Humble Bundle ranks up there with the best of them, offering two Batman games, two F.E.A.R. games, and other good stuff.

Watch 33 years of video game titles flash by in two minutes – As video games have become more like movies, so have the title sequences that accompany them. Once, they were mostly static — just glorified welcome screens dressed up with a bit of animation or color. But now, they’re meticulously designed, sometimes taking months to produce. Watch as Art of the Title flips through three decades’ worth of opening credits.

How Call of Duty: Ghosts has shifted the gaming landscape – Ghosts released to the world yesterday. Is the world sick of yearly iterations, or did the new CoD hit big? How will it affect 2013’s gaming landscape?

Off Topic (Sort of):

Revealed: Secrets of the “dash-cam” meteorite that rocked Russia – The asteroid impact that burst over Chelyabinsk, Russia on the morning of February 15 has provided a huge collection of new data that scientists have been analyzing since. This week, three papers, two in Nature and one in Science, describe new aspects of the meteorite’s airburst, building the most detailed forensic picture that we have of the events of that morning.

“Sweetie” virtual child takes down 1000 pedophiles in 10 weeks – Technology is directly involved in our daily lives, making it more convenient, more efficient, and more entertaining. There’s another side to technological advances that we don’t see on the daily, however, and it is arguably the most important of them all — the ability to prevent crimes that otherwise would slip under the radar. Such is the case with “Sweetie,” a virtual 10-year-old girl created to lure in pedophiles who are subsequently identified and handed over to law enforcement.

Billy Connolly Smoked A Bible – CONAN on TBS (humour) – Want to smoke but have no rolling papers? Billy Connolly says let the Lord help! (suggested by Michael F.)

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Owners Petition for Android 4.4 KitKat – Galaxy Nexus smartphone owners are petitioning Google for the launch of Android 4.4 KitKat on the two-year-old smartphone.

Privacy ruling forces Google to delete racy images – Google must remove from its search results photos of the former Formula One president at a sex party, a French court rules.

Netflix’s war with movie theaters – The company’s content chief thinks movies should appear on Netflix on the same day they open in theaters, before the buzz wears off.

Of punchcards, platters, and wooden mice: The PC’s origin story – Let’s revel in the roots of the wonder machines that make our lives easier. From the first GPUs and CPUs to the forerunner of the Internet, these are the breakthroughs that birthed computers as we know them today. If nothing else, staring history in the face reminds us that all computing devices share the same background, regardless of what shape and form PCs take today.

Something to think about:

Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

–    Arthur Schopenhauer

Today’s Free Downloads:

Ghostery 5.0.6 – Ghostery sees the “invisible” web, detecting trackers, web bugs, pixels, and beacons placed on web pages by Facebook, Google Analytics, and over 1,000 other ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers – all companies interested in your activity. Ghostery allows you to block scripts from companies that you don’t trust, delete local shared objects, and even block images and iframes.

Junkware Removal Tool 6.0.8 – Junkware Removal Tool is a security utility that searches for and removes common adware, toolbars, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) from your computer. A common tactics among freeware publishers is to offer their products for free, but bundle them with PUPs in order to earn revenue. This tool will help you remove these types of programs.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Googlers say “F*** you” to NSA, company encrypts internal network – Google has started to encrypt its traffic between its data centers, effectively halting the broad surveillance of its inner workings by the joint National Security Agency-GCHQ program known as MUSCULAR. The move turns off a giant source of information to the two agencies, which at one point accounted for nearly a third of the NSA’s daily data intake for its primary intelligence analysis database—at least for now.

Google engineers rage at NSA – Google cryptography engineers explain their anger at the NSA for violating security systems they built to stop criminals.

Dutch civil society groups sue government over NSA data sharing – A coalition of defense lawyers, privacy advocates and journalists has sued the Dutch government over its collaboration and exchange of data with the U.S. National Security Agency and other foreign intelligence services.

How the Government Spied on Me – My complaint to the FBI about a stalker was regarded as an invitation to invade my privacy – It has been a full year since federal agents snooped through the private emails of my husband and me, setting in motion a series of events that ultimately led to the resignations of Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan. The anniversary is a somber reminder of the unintended consequences and harsh realities that can result from unrestrained government probing into Americans’ personal communications.

Web inventor Berners-Lee sounds alarm on mass spying – Sir Tim Berners-Lee says the activities of the NSA and its UK counterpart, the GCHQ, could warp his baby, making the Internet vulnerable to attack and depriving humanity of a “safe space” for problem solving.

Google Engineers reply to NSA: “all too often, laws are for the little people” – There are a couple of Google engineers working for the Google security team replying in kind to the NSA and the GCHQ (on the other side of the ocean) regarding the most recent round of Edward Snowden-leaked documents on government snooping into Google and Yahoo cloud networks. What you’ll find is a rather everyman-level bit of talk that essentially anyone can understand. Per Google’s Mike Hearn: “We designed this system to keep criminals out. There’s no ambiguity here.”

Kaspersky: “We detect and remediate any malware attack,” even by NSA – Antivirus provider Kaspersky said it has designed its products to detect all malware, even if it’s sponsored by the National Security Agency or other government entities under programs espoused to target terrorists or other threats. “We have a very simple and straightforward policy as it relates to the detection of malware: We detect and remediate any malware attack, regardless of its origin or purpose,” officials with the Moscow-based company wrote in a statement issued Wednesday. “There is no such thing as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ malware for us.”

Apple discloses what it’s sharing with governments – We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the US government secretly gathering information from Google, Yahoo, and other tech giants. But what about Apple? The Cupertino-based corporation, not yet caught up in the NSA scandals, has decided to take disclosure into its own hands. They’ve issued a report detailing what type of information they are sharing with what national governments.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 7, 2013

  1. Michael Fisher

    Hi Bill

    “…Mozilla released 10 patches for three versions of its Firefox browser on Tuesday…”

    Is this correct? I clicked your article link & then the Mozilla link inside that [if you understand me 🙂 ] & it seems to me to be saying that it was patched in V. 25.0. I’ve been on V 25.0 for a few weeks…

    Keep up the good work sir!

    • Hi Michael,

      Yep – you’re right. It does refer to FF Version 25. It would have been better if I had deleted the word “Tuesday” – most confusing!

      Good that you picked that up. Thanks.



  2. delenn13

    Hi Bill,

    Regarding The Humble Bundle…Please Note: All the games are available via Steam only!

    But for less than 5.00 you get the 2 Batman games..Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition and Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition plus Scribblenauts Unlimited(which I have been wanting). AND…F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin and F.E.A.R. 3, Lord of the Rings: War in the North.

    So it depends on how bad you want the games. Steam is now allowing you to “share”(In beta) games now.So you could gift now…or share later….
    Steam Family Sharing

    • Hey Delenn13,

      I hear ya! Overall, I find Steam useable – but, I detest having to deal with an advertisement as part of the launch process. On top of that, it takes FIVE mouse clicks to shut down Skyrim. Bizarre.

      So OK – maybe I don’t find it all that useable. lol!