Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 15, 2013

8 superpowers inside your browser;  BlackBerry Messenger for the iPad and iPod;  Move to a new PC (Spoiler: Don’t clone);  Five cool 3D printers for less than $500;  SecretInk – Send Self-Destructing Messages;  Cybercriminals target Silverlight;  Alternatives for online backups; Had Malware;  Infographic: What happens after a data breach?

8 superpowers hidden inside your browser – Think I’m laying it on thick? Check out these eight killer features found in modern browsers and see for yourself. Fair warning: When you’re done, any preconceptions you have about the impossibility of living life in a browser may well be shattered.

How to move to a new PC (Spoiler: Don’t clone) – I strongly recommend against cloning the drive on an old PC to a new one. You bring all of your old problems to a new machine. What’s more, you create more problems, because every Windows installation is adapted to the particular hardware it was installed on. Sorry to say this, but you need to take the time to move everything over properly. Here’s how.

Done with the cloud? Alternatives for online backups – The need to back up your data is indisputable, but how you do it is a matter of choice. Cloud backup services are the most hassle-free option, but they can be costly, and they require a stable, high-speed broadband connection that isn’t available for everyone. And NSA surveillance has certainly made it difficult to trust sensitive data to a third-party provider. Alternatives exist. With a combination of hardware, apps, and services, you can create secure, easily accessible data backups without relying on the cloud.

FCC releases Android app to test mobile broadband speeds – Crowdsourced Android program will collect various information about data speeds and signal strength achieved on users’ smartphones to present a performance comparison for consumers.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

BlackBerry Messenger now available for the iPad and iPod – Thursday’s update makes the app available on a wider range of devices and also brings more options for finding friends through the service.

Five cool 3D printers for less than $500 – Most 3D printers will set you back a pretty penny, but there are a few out there for less than $500. Here are five worth a look.

Inside Coin’s techie vision for the all-in-one credit card – This hardware startup’s ambitious device is a .84 mm thin card that stores an unlimited number of payment methods in its dynamic magnetic stripe.

You can now access in-flight 3G and 4G broadband in Europe – The European Commission gave airlines permission to offer their passengers Internet access via 3G and 4G connections while in flight.

Staking out Twitter and Facebook, new service lets police poke perps – Local law enforcement is getting the kind of technological boost that used to be limited to three-letter agencies, thanks to Web-based software services that mine social media for intelligence.

SecretInk Lets You Send Self-Destructing Messages Over Email Or SMS Right From Your Inbox – PowerInbox, the email platform company which merged with competitor ActivePath a year ago, is today launching technology called SecretInk that enables “self-destructing” messages that can be sent over email or SMS. The system works online or inside Gmail and other webmail services using the company’s PowerInbox add-on. This utility also enables other interactive email content from dozens of social networks, news sites, and more.

Canadian teens busted in alleged Snapchat child sex pics ring – The boys, all aged 13 to 15, allegedly coerced the girls into sending pictures of themselves in sexual poses or performing sexual acts by convincing them that Snapchat photos can only be viewed for a few seconds and are then automatically deleted from the receiver’s phone, the CBC reports. In this case, police officers allege the boys used hacks that allowed them to save the girls’ pictures to their phones even after the time limit had elapsed. They then purportedly traded the photos among themselves without the girls’ knowledge or consent. (suggested by Aseem S.)

In 6 months, US law enforcement asked Google for data on 21,000 users – Google and other tech companies have been actively fighting at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in an attempt to tell the public more about the types of US law enforcement orders that they must comply with. While that case continues, Google announced on Thursday that US government (local, state, federal) requests for data has reached 21,683 users between January through June 2013.

Google slams U.S. government in latest transparency report – Google’s numbers show the U.S. government is the nosiest in the world, but it’s the data that Google can’t disclose that has the company lawyering up.

Google’s JavaScript replacement, Dart, hits 1.0 release – Two years after being first announced by the search giant, Dart has finally been deemed “ready for production”.


Infographic: What happens after a data breach? – High profile data breaches that expose customer information are in the news. This graphic shows how the thieves sell the info and make their money.

HP researchers find zero-day exploit in IE11 on Windows 8.1 – Microsoft has to deal with yet another zero-day exploit found in a version of Internet Explorer. Fortunately, this flaw was found not by hackers but by security researchers and demoed as part of a non-competition portion of the Mobile Pwn2Own hacking contest. Earlier this week, security patches and other fixes for IE11 were released by Microsoft, which bumped the version number of the browser from 11.0 to 11.0.1. Had Malware; Clean Up Your Computer Now! – If you’ve visited popular humor website over the last few days, it’s possible you may have been hit by a drive-by-download attack, according to researchers at Barracuda. It appears several of the major antivirus suites, including Kaspersky Lab, F-Secure, Trend Micro, Symantec, McAfee, and BitDefender, updated their signatures today to detect this malware, according to VirusTotal.

A nefarious use of Google Drive to load malicious redirects – A lesser known aspect of the popular cloud storage Google Drive is its built-in site publishing feature that allows you to upload an entire directory containing static web files (HTML, JavaScript, CSS, etc.) and to publish your own website. Bad guys are uploading malicious scripts and using them as part of a well thought chain of attacks that infects legitimate websites and redirects their traffic to drive-by download landing pages.

Cybercriminals target Silverlight browser plug-in users with new exploit kit – It’s not clear how many users have Silverlight installed on their computers, but their number is likely to be in the tens of millions. According to an independent malware researcher who uses the pseudonym Kafeine, aside from Java and Flash Player, Angler EK is now also targeting Silverlight, a runtime environment for rich Internet applications developed by Microsoft.

Microsoft opens new Cybercrime Center complex – Microsoft has now officially opened its new Cybercrime Center complex in Redmond, Washington, which it says will be able to help combat global cyberthreats in real time.

TSA’s got 94 signs to ID terrorists, but they’re unproven by science: Government auditor slams $900M spent on unproven program – In a new report (PDF) released today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that “the human ability to accurately identify deceptive behavior based on behavioral indicators is the same as or slightly better than chance.” And it dryly noted that programs like SPOT should be “demonstrated to work reliably in their intended environment prior to program deployment.”

Activists to Rally Against Increasing Use of Drones to Spy and Kill – Anti-drone activists will march from the White House to the headquarters of drone aircraft manufacturer General Atomics on Friday ahead of the first Global Drone Summit.

Company News:

Cisco attributes part of lowered earnings to China’s anger toward NSA – After its quarterly earnings call on Wednesday evening, Cisco’s stock price is down over 12 percent (as of this writing) on Thursday. Interestingly, company executives attributed part of that slowdown to a backlash from China. Cisco says that June 2013 documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed American surveillance in China and that those revelations have somewhat tarnished its business with the nation.

Google CAN scan your books and put them online for free, rules judge – The Authors Guild and groups representing photographers and graphic artists sued the advertising goliath, claiming the Google Books website was a massive breach of copyright. The service has scanned 30 million titles since 2004, and allows people to retrieve texts without anyone paying a dime to the authors. Today, a US judge ruled that the digitizing project is covered by “fair use” protections against copyright claims.

Android has 82% of smartphone market reports Gartner – Research firm Gartner has released its latest report on the state of the smartphone industry around the world for Q3 2013. The numbers show that Android as an operating system is dominating the overall market for smartphones with 82% market share. The numbers also show that Samsung is the largest manufacturer in the industry.

Google Motorola set to return to India with low cost Moto G – When Google took over Motorola last year, they also stopped selling devices in India. Now, it’s set to return with an affordable, low end handset: Moto G.

IBM opens Jeopardy-winning Watson to developers with a self-service cloud – IBM today said it will open Watson to more software developers with an API (application programming interface) developer toolkit and educational materials as part of a self-service cloud platform. Developers and software vendors can build applications that tie into a version of Watson hosted in the cloud, letting apps answer nearly any question a customer might ask.

Mozilla has “no plans to launch” Firefox OS phones in the U.S. – A Mozilla executive has said that the company has “no plans to launch” Firefox OS phones in the United States, after it had previously outlined its intentions to launch devices on Sprint in 2014.

Games and Entertainment:

Rocksmith Review: Less than a game, more than a tool – Rocksmith 2014 is an incremental update to the original guitar game/education tool Rocksmith, but the innovative Session Mode makes it all worthwhile.

Nintendo 3DS update brings Miiverse support and more – Nintendo has announced some very nice updates for are inbound for the Nintendo 3DS game console. The system update will bring several new features, including the ability to combine a balance on the Nintendo eShop from the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U consoles.

Xbox Live Gold members to get free games on Xbox One in 2014 – Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox Live Gold members who own Xbox One consoles will be able to get free games each month starting sometime in 2014, with details coming later.

Zelda: A Link Between Worlds review: The more things change – Longtime fans may not take kindly to the comparison, but The Legend of Zelda has truly grown into the industry’s biggest serial mystery series. Every Zelda game offers a lengthy-yet-breezy retread, always following certain tenets to the letter with the occasional window-dressing tweak. Even portable Zelda games fall into this category in spite of moments that are occasionally odder than most of their bigger-brother console entries.

Epoch.2 Brings More Robot-on-Robot Combat to iPhone and iPad – It has been a few years since the release of Epoch, one of the best cover-based shooters ever to grace a touchscreen. After some teasing, the sequel, Epoch.2 has arrived on iPhone and iPad. It brings the same intuitive combat that made the first one great, and adds new weapons, enemies, and post-apocalyptic locations to the mix.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Smartphone addicts go floppy under the sheets, warns DOCTOR WANG – Taiwanese doctors have warned that men who are glued to their smartphones late into the night are at risk from suffering erectile dysfunction. Increasing numbers of men in their 20s are visiting their urologist with ailments more commonly found in the middle aged, according to WantChinaTimes.

TIME: The 25 Best Inventions of the Year 2013 (video 2:33) – What makes an invention great? Sometimes it solves a problem you didn’t think could be solved. Skyscrapers can’t turn invisible. Pens can’t write in midair. Paraplegics can’t walk. Except now they can. And sometimes an invention solves a problem you didn’t know you had. Maybe you didn’t realize you needed to eat a doughnut and a croissant at the same time, or resurrect an extinct frog, or turn your entire body into a living password. Now you do. Want a list of the best things that were invented in 2013? Now you have one.

Meet the Punk Rocker Who Can Liberate Your FBI File – Ryan Shapiro’s technique is so effective at unburying sensitive documents, the feds are asking the courts to stop him.

Console Wars: A History of Violence – With controversies now erupting over everything from the Xbox One’s slightly lower resolution on some games to the PS4’s slightly reduced media capabilities, it’s time yet again for everyone to argue over which big black box is better. Accordingly PCMag is taking a look back at the console wars of generations past.

Social garbage bin tells you to pick up the trash – The polite Social Trash Box out of Japan twists, bends, and reminds you to do your part to keep public spaces clean.

Comet ISON is now visible with high-powered binoculars – We’ve been following the comet ISON since it was first discovered. The comet is making its way towards the sun and putting on quite a light show as it does. The comet will reach its closest approach to the sun around Thanksgiving day, assuming it doesn’t break apart before then.

Baby pictures! NASA offers first look at Milky Way in its infancy – Observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope show how our galaxy has grown over billions of years.

Something to think about:

The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success. Talent is only a starting point in this business. You’ve got to keep on working that talent. Someday I’ll reach for it and it won’t be there.”

–      Irving Berlin

Today’s Free Downloads:

K-Lite Mega Codec Pack 10.1.5 – K-Lite Codec Pack is a collection of components needed for audio and video playback in DirectShow players such as Windows Media Player, Media Center, and Media Player Classic. This Codec Pack is designed as a user-friendly solution for playing all your movie files. It contains everything you need to play all common audio and video file formats.

Spotify – Spotify is a new way to listen to music. Any track you like, any time you like. Just search for it in Spotify, then play it. Any artist, any album, any genre – all available instantly. With Spotify, there are no limits to the amount of music you could listen to. Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it.

iSpy – iSpy uses your webcams and microphones to detect and record movement or sound and provides security, surveillance, monitoring and alerting services. Any media that is captured is compressed to flash video and made available, securely over the web. iSpy can be setup to run on multiple computers simultaneously. iSpy is free, open-source software, so if you want it to do anything else, please download the source code and customise it to your requirements.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CIA Reportedly Collects Bulk Data On International Money Transfers – A new report finds that U.S intelligence agencies are collecting more than data on telephone records and Internet behavior. According to the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the CIA “is building a vast database of international money transfers that includes millions of Americans’ financial and personal data, officials familiar with the program say.”

Homeland Security must disclose cell network ‘kill switch’ protocols, court says – The U.S. government’s rules governing its ability to shut down cellular and wireless networks to prevent remote bomb detonation must be disclosed, a court has ruled.

NSA has no idea when it spies on Americans, top lawyer says: Because doing so would “require a greater invasion of that person’s privacy.” – Speaking before a senatorial subcommittee on Wednesday, the intelligence community’s top lawyer told senators that the National Security Agency is incapable of knowing how often Americans’ data is captured inadvertently. Robert Litt, general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy the problem is that it would be “very resource-intensive” to figure out whether foreign targets are communicating with Americans, according to The Hill.

Microsoft FAILS to encrypt data centre links despite NSA snooping – Microsoft has admitted it doesn’t yet encrypt “server-to-server” communications, although it plans to review its security arrangements in the wake of ongoing revelations about NSA spying. The non-cryption admission, made by a senior Microsoft legal officer during an EU inquiry, comes shortly after leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that Google and Yahoo! data centre interconnects were being tapped by the NSA’s spies, as part of a program code-named MUSCULAR.

At Senate hearing, Google warns of ‘splinternet’ but NSA does not budge – NSA warns that if Internet companies provide numbers of surveillance orders, it would alert adversaries on which services to avoid.

Internet architects propose encrypting all the world’s Web traffic – A vastly larger percentage of the world’s Web traffic will be encrypted under a near-final recommendation to revise the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that serves as the foundation for all communications between websites and end users. Last week, cryptographer and security expert Bruce Schneier urged people to “make surveillance expensive again” by encrypting as much Internet data as possible.

Leaks Unbound: NSA Admits Snowden Took Up To 200K Documents – In a recent speech, only now picking up coverage, the NSA’s General Keith Alexander admitted that whistleblower Edward Snowden took up to 200,000 documents. Earlier estimates put the number at around 50,000.

US gov’t wants to litigate disclosure case in secret: Google and others want to say specifically what gov’t orders they’ve received – For months now, a group of tech giants including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, and LinkedIn has asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for the right to be more specific on the types of legal requests they receive from the government. Since the wake of the Snowden leaks earlier this year, these companies have pushed for oral argument before the court and have asked that this argument be open to the public.

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