13 Affordable iPad Mini Alternatives; Smartphone buying guide; Facebook posts can be used for ads; Apple to start following you around its stores; Adobe hacks affected multiple US agencies; Microsoft Releases 3D Builder; Bitcoin is legitimate; ‘I’m BIG, I’m BALD and I’m LOUD!’ – Ballmer; Arms dealers supply malware; PS4: 10 Things You Need to Know; WiFi Password Decryptor; Budget-friendly Android tablets; Windows License Key Dump 1.0 – recover the product/serial Keys of Windows and other popular software.
Chomsky: Fight back against NSA spying or be ‘complicit’ – Now that the extent of the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs has been exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, it’s beholden on the public to fight back or else find themselves “complicit” in the activities, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguistics professor and philosopher Noam Chomsky.
A cloud safe from the NSA’s prying eyes: Europe begins work on its EU-wide system – A new project seeks to lay down some ground rules for what could become a cloud for the continent.
Apple to start following you around its stores, report says – Apple stores are reportedly about to be equipped with iBeacon transmitters that connect to iPhones. These are intended to enhance your shopping experience.
Smartphone buying guide 2013: Find the phone that’s right for you – When considering a new smartphone, whether it’s the newest iPhone, an Android superphone, or a business-friendly Windows Phone, it pays do a bit of research before you hit the stores so that you’ll know exactly what to look for. You’re going to use it every day for the next few years. Choose wisely!
Mozilla Firefox ‘Australis’ to bring UI enhancements to the browser – Mozilla is testing a new UI for Firefox known as “Australis” which might replace the current interface in the future. The nightly builds with the new UI will be available to testers starting Monday.
Facebook says yes, your posts can be used for ads – Facebook on Friday moved ahead with proposed changes to its privacy policies to clarify that users’ posts on the site can be used in advertisements, but that users have controls to limit their appearance.
Microsoft Releases ’3D Builder,’ A 3D Printing App For Windows 8.1 – Out today from Microsoft is a 3D-printing application called 3D Builder that will help the amateur set dig into 3D printing, provided that they 1) have a Windows 8.1 machine, and 2) have a Windows 8.1-ready 3D printer. So, it’s a small group. But that’s just fine. Every technology has an incubation phase apart from the mainstream, and 3D printing is only now enjoying public awareness, let alone mass adoption.
Budget-friendly Android tablets – James Sanders takes a look at a few of the more powerful, budget-friendly, full-size Android tablets that are being produced in Asia.
13 Affordable iPad Mini Alternatives – The Retina iPad mini has arrived. But what if iOS is not your thing? Here are some small-screen tablets to consider instead.
Laptop buying guide 2013: How to find the right notebook for you – It’s been a good year for laptops. We can help you find the best one for your needs.
Google and Microsoft team up to fight child pornography – Google’s Eric Schmidt announced today in the British press that Google and Microsoft have started blocking over 100.000 searches related to child abuse imagery. The changes will soon roll-out globally.
Ray-Ban Shama Shades with solar panels would charge your iPhone – We’ve seen plenty of wearables with solar panels built into them, but how about the most obvious wearable: sunglasses? That’s exactly what these Ray-Ban “Shama” concept sunglasses are. The temples (arms) of the sunglasses capture sunlight throughout the day, and you plug them into your iPhone when the sun goes down.
Four ways to combat YouTube’s new comment system – YouTube’s new comment system forces you to create a Google+ account, and introduces some problematic features. If you want to hide or change YouTube comments, here are a few options.
Adobe hacks affected multiple US agencies, FBI says – The US Army, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and other US government agencies were infiltrated by the Adobe software breaches that came to light last month, the FBI said in a memo this week.
Mobile malware reported riding on Google messaging service – Mobile botnets are on the rise and cybercriminals are using the Google Cloud Messaging service to distribute malware, a new report says. The latest weapon in criminals’ arsenal is GCM, which enables them to send short messages in the JSON format to instruct malware on Android devices.
Ten-Thousand CryptoLocked-Out – Just when you thought all your troubles were gone, CryptoLocker snuck back into the scene. Some of you may recall this malware menace from last month that was used in a ransomware campaign. In a blog post, security company Bitdefender revealed that CryptoLocker claimed over 10,000 victims in one week.
Anonymous Hacktivist Jeremy Hammond Gets Maximum 10-Year Prison Sentence – Anonymous hacktivist, Jeremy Hammond, who leaked millions of emails from security firm Stratfor, has been slapped with the maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Hammond claimed the harsh ruling was a “vengeful, spiteful act” designed to send a message.
Anonymous Indonesia claims attacks by Anonymous Australia – Entities using the name and iconography of Anonymous (EUTNAIOA) and claiming to be the Indonesian branch of the movement have accused entities using the name and iconography of Anonymous and claiming to be the Australian branch of the movement of attacks on Indonesia’s national airline Garuda and other hostile actions.
‘Arms dealers’ supply malware for cyberattacks, research says – Companies battling tireless cyberespionage campaigns may be up against well-organized attackers that are fed a steady stream of malware from a talented developer of cyber-arms.
DoJ, SEC, the Fed to Senate Homeland Security: Bitcoin is legitimate – As Bitcoin settles in for another spasmodic leap in the ticker graphs, key agencies in the United States government are telling elected officials that Bitcoin is a legitimate financial instrument. Officials from the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve and other experts released letters ahead of a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing to say Bitcoin “has great potential benefits” as well as risks, just as with any other financial instrument. This signals a widening public acceptance of the digital currency.
Foxconn intern claims PS4 was sabotaged during manufacturing – As shipments continue to go out for the PS4, many of the consoles are DOA with the “pulsating blue light” being the most common. Now a Foxconn intern claims the consoles were deliberately sabotaged.
Report: Apple buys the company that helped Microsoft create Kinect – A report claims that PrimeSense, which developed the motion-tracking tech in Microsoft’s original Kinect sensor, has been purchased by Apple for $345m, following rumours of takeover talks in July.
Google will build another six solar power plants in the U.S. – Google has announced plans to continue its rollout of solar energy plants in the U.S. with one of its larger investments to date: $80 million for six new facilities. So far, Google has committed over $1 billion to wind and solar power plants that create clean energy and generate “attractive financial returns,” it said in a blog post.
Twitter Expands Its Alerts Service To The UK And Ireland To Push Out Critical Info From The Met Police And 56 Others – Twitter Alerts — a service that Twitter launched in September for emergency, relief and charity organizations from the U.S., Japan and Korea to send out critical messages to opted-in users — is getting more international. Today, the newly public company is turning on Twitter Alerts in the UK and Ireland.
‘I’m BIG, I’m BALD and I’m LOUD!’ Blubbering Ballmer admits HE was Microsoft’s problem – A tearful Steve Ballmer has admitted he was a big part of the problem at Microsoft – and that the company needs to rethink its management structure to succeed in the future. “At the end of the day, we need to break a pattern. Face it: I’m a pattern,” company CEO Ballmer told The Wall Street Journal with apparent tears in his eyes.
Games and Entertainment:
10 great PC games with really steep learning curves – Some games just aren’t designed for the pick-up-and-play crowd. With this type of game, just getting through the tutorial requires an advanced degree. Stick with it, though—even if the amount of information on the screen intimidates you and the game concepts seem beyond comprehension. Because the more effort it takes to master the game, the more satisfying the victory.
Sony: PS4 sells over 1 million units in North America in first 24 hours – Sony has announced it has sold over 1 million units of its PlayStation 4 console in the U.S. and Canada in the first 24 hours since its official launch on Friday.
Bricked PS4 reports are very real, no replacements available for months – Regardless of why any PS4 is experiencing issues, Sony is currently telling customers that new units won’t be available until February. If you purchased your console through retail locations like Best Buy and GameStop, and you purchased one of the added warranties sold by those locations, you stand a better chance of getting a replacement console earlier. Amazon is currently telling customers that replacement consoles could be available in January, which is only slightly better.
Setting up parental controls on the PlayStation 4 – Games like Killzone Shadow Fall, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, and many others, will ensure that you’re entertained for hours. Some of these games, however, may not be appropriate for young kids. To make things easier for parents, Sony has included numerous parental controls that can prevent kids from accessing certain content, features, and games.
PS4: 10 Things You Need to Know – Whether you’re upgrading from a PS3 or are new to the platform, here’s what you should know before you make the leap.
Candy Crush Saga Turns One With 500M Downloads – Addictive online and mobile game Candy Crush Saga today celebrates one year of distracting daily commuters and occupying waiting room patients. Candy Crush has been installed more than 500 million times across Facebook and various mobile devices since its launch in 2012, rocketing to the front of the class as one of the most successful games of all time.
Off Topic (Sort of):
5 Ways U.S. Democracy Is More Rigged Than You Think – None of you are naive or think government works exactly the way you learned it in elementary school. We all know there are backroom deals and bribes and blackmail and probably, like, orgies and shit behind the scenes. But what many people don’t realize is that the most unfair and outright broken parts of the system we have in the USA aren’t a result of people breaking the law. No, the craziest, most overtly bullshit practices are perfectly legal.
Scientist: Quantum physics can prove there’s an afterlife – Professor Robert Lanza is sure there’s something beyond this mortal coil. He believes the science is there to prove it.
South Africa Cemeteries to Microchip Tombstones – Amid a rash of tombstone thefts from cemeteries in Johannesburg, a company will be offering relatives of the deceased a high-tech solution: microchips that can be inserted into the memorial that will sound an alarm and send a text message to their cell phones if it is disturbed.
Amazon’s Alpha House Reveals The Silly Everyday Life Of A U.S. Senator – Political life is more like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm than The West Wing. The deviously calculating minds of Aaron Sorkin political thrillers belie that sheer absurdity of elected life. Amazon’s first foray into original programming, Alpha House, reveals the silly everyday happenings of Senators as they struggle with their DC apartment housemates, obligatory partisan stunts, and social media gaffes (yes, many congressmen have shared housing).
Police turn to nose telescope to sniff out marijuana – Every cop can’t be assigned a drug-sniffing police canine, and our noses aren’t nearly as advanced at sniffing out nefarious odors as our adorable-but-hardworking companions’ noses. A new gadget, straight out of Futurama, can amplify a human’s sense of smell, and target specific odors to, for example, detect illicit substances.
Infographic: The Tech Behind NASA’s MAVEN Mars Mission – NASA’s next jointly-run Mars mission, MAVEN, has been greenlighted for launch on Monday. But before liftoff can take happen, everything from the weather at Cape Canaveral, Fla. to the smooth running of the spacecraft’s systems must be just so.
NSA foe Greenwald whips new media venture into shape – With the help of eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar, Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the NSA story this summer, is putting together what he hopes is a newsgathering dream team.
Rolls-Royce weighs 3D printers to make jet engine parts – Rolls-Royce is evaluating using 3D printing technology to create lighter components for its jet engines, the company’s head of technology strategy said.
Something to think about:
“If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain.”
– Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.
Today’s Free Downloads:
CurrPorts 2.10 – CurrPorts displays the list of all currently opened TCP/IP and UDP ports on your local computer. For each port in the list, information about the process that opened the port is also displayed, including the process name, full path of the process, version information of the process (product name, file description, and so on), the time that the process was created, and the user that created it. In addition, CurrPorts allows you to close unwanted TCP connections, kill the process that opened the ports, and save the TCP/UDP ports information to HTML file , XML file, or to tab-delimited text file. CurrPorts also automatically mark with pink color suspicious TCP/UDP ports owned by unidentified applications.
WiFi Password Decryptor 2.5 – WiFi Password Decryptor is the FREE software to instantly recover Wireless account passwords stored on your system. It automatically recovers all type of Wireless Keys/Passwords (WEP/WPA/WPA2 etc) stored by Windows Wireless Configuration Manager.
Windows License Key Dump 1.0 – Windows License Key Dump is the free command-line tool to recover the product/serial Keys of Windows and other popular software. It automatically detects and decrypts the license/serial keys of over 200+ popular software programs including Office, SQL Server, Adobe, Nero and many more. Being a command-line tool makes it useful for penetration testers and forensic investigators.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
Our Government Has Weaponized the Internet. Here’s How They Did It – The internet backbone — the infrastructure of networks upon which internet traffic travels — went from being a passive infrastructure for communication to an active weapon for attacks. If the NSA can hack Petrobras, the Russians can justify attacking Exxon/Mobil. If GCHQ can hack Belgacom to enable covert wiretaps, France can do the same to AT&T. If the Canadians target the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Chinese can target the U.S. Department of the Interior. We now live in a world where, if we are lucky, our attackers may be every country our traffic passes through except our own. Which means the rest of us — and especially any company or individual whose operations are economically or politically significant — are now targets. All cleartext traffic is not just information being sent from sender to receiver, but is a possible attack vector. (suggested by Aseem S.)
Lavabit-DOJ dispute zeroes in on encryption key ownership – The government’s insistence, in its dispute with Lavabit, that cloud service providers hand over their encryption keys when asked, has refocused attention of key ownership and management in the cloud. Security experts agree that the best way for companies to ensure that their data is safe from snooping eyes in the cloud is to encrypt all their data and to maintain total ownership of the encryption keys. However, pulling off that feat is not always easy, practical or cheap.
Schneier on Security: Air Gaps – Since I started working with Snowden’s documents, I have been using a number of tools to try to stay secure from the NSA. The advice I shared included using Tor, preferring certain cryptography over others, and using public-domain encryption wherever possible. I also recommended using an air gap, which physically isolates a computer or local network of computers from the Internet. (The name comes from the literal gap of air between the computer and the Internet; the word predates wireless networks.). But this is more complicated than it sounds, and requires explanation.
NSA spying challenges U.S. cloud providers, analyst says – With the U.S. Congress unlikely to take action on NSA surveillance programs, U.S. cloud service providers could take a hit. Most businesses we have spoken with have a negative view of the PRISM and phone records programs, viewing them with suspicion and distrust. The programs can undermine retail customers’ trust in U.S. businesses, and that trust is an asset that U.S. businesses value. The programs can put U.S. businesses at a competitive disadvantage when competing against non-U.S. businesses.
Asian firms should trust no one but the tech – Concerns over U.S. surveillance are apparently leading to a “de-Americanization” of IT environments in Asia-Pacific, specifically China, as governments ban the use of U.S. technology. Is the paranoia necessary?
Snowden documents reveal Australia tapped Indonesian president’s Nokia: Report – Indonesian president, his wife, vice president, and other senior members of the Indonesian government were the target of phone surveillance, documents show.
Privacy groups ask FTC to check tech firms’ link to NSA – Several advocacy groups are calling for an investigation into Internet companies Yahoo and Google whose networks were secretly accessed by the National Security Agency.