Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 19, 2013

Best Buy, Sprint Offer Students Free Year of Service;  25 tips and tools for Google Drive;  Free SoftPerfect WiFi Guard;  Google Play Music is finally on iOS;  Netflix users in malware danger;  Yahoo to encrypt all user data;  F-Secure Offers Lifetime Security;  NFL, MLB Threaten To Ditch Broadcast;  Free SpywareBlaster;  Mozilla streamlines Firefox’s look;  Five takeaways from the NSA and Internet surveillance.

Best Buy, Sprint Offer Students Free Year of Service – The carrier has teamed up with Best Buy to offer students 12 months of free talk, text, and data. The promotion, which offers a savings of up to $70 per month for smartphones and $50 a month for basic phones, is available exclusively at Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores nationwide staring today through Jan. 4.

Free SoftPerfect WiFi Guard – SoftPerfect’s WiFi Guard helps protect your small Wi-Fi network by scanning regularly for new and unrecognized devices, pinging to verify devices, detecting firewalls, and reporting anything suspicious so you can take action, if necessary. You don’t need to know a lot about Wi-Fi networks to use Wi-Fi Guard. (CNET installer enabled.)

6 great tools for capturing, annotating, and sharing screenshots – Screenshots are invaluable in daily office life, whether they’re for shiny product pages or just to better explain a technical issue you’ve stumbled on. Here are six excellent (and mostly free) screenshot tools.

25 tips and tools to make Google Drive more powerful and productive – With the right combination of tools, settings and know-how, you can turn Drive into a lean, mean, productivity machine — one that’s jam-packed with time-saving functionality and fine-tuned to work for you. Here are 25 ways to crank up the power and send Google Drive into overdrive.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Keep your laptop safe and secure while you travel – Unlike an arm or leg, though, your laptop isn’t physically attached to your body. And there are all too many ways that it can come to harm—or even disappear with someone who covets it as much as you do. Follow these tips for laptop security, and you won’t have to ask Santa to bring you a new one.

Google Play Music is finally on iOS and it’s worth checking out – Though it’s been a long time coming, since the company announced Google Music for Android, the iPhone version is still a great option among a crowded field of music streaming apps.

Twitter Alerts launch brings ‘life-saving’ emergency tweets to U.K. & Ireland – Twitter Alerts has launched in the U.K. and Ireland, with 57 organisations, including police forces and government agencies, signing up to share critical information quickly when it is needed most.

YouTube down for 30 minutes without explanation – YouTube went down today for about 30 minutes, a rare occurrence for Google’s flagship streaming video service. Between about 5:20PM and 5:50PM Eastern Time, the site could not be reached. This included embedded videos in websites. Anyone attempting to visit the YouTube website saw a 500 internal server error message. This indicated that the servers were down, but YouTube hasn’t yet said why.

Yahoo to encrypt all internal and user data by early next year – Marissa Mayer, by way of the official Yahoo Tumblr, has announced the plans to begin encrypting more data. This follows the recent news about encrypting Yahoo Mail. The mail encryption is coming by January 8, 2014 and promises https (SSL – Secure Sockets Layer) encryption with a 2048-bit key. This next phase of encryption is set to go into effect during Q1 2014.

Enter Australis: Mozilla streamlines Firefox’s look – The new user interface is designed to be faster, easier to use, and suited for a future with Firefox running on phones and tablets, too. As always, though, change means pain.

How Munich rejected Steve Ballmer and kicked Microsoft out of the city – Breaking up with Microsoft is hard to do. Just ask Peter Hofmann, the man leading the City of Munich’s project to ditch Windows and Office in favour of open source alternatives. Munich says the move to open source has saved it more than €10m, a claim contested by Microsoft, yet Hofmann says the point of making the switch was never about money, but about freedom.

Security:

Netflix users in danger of unknowingly picking up malware – Users of Silverlight, Microsoft’s answer to Adobe Flash, are in danger of having malware installed on their computers and being none the wiser, as an exploit for a critical vulnerability in the app framework has been added to the Angler exploit kit.

Battlefield 4 PC DDoS attacks lead to PS4 woes – Battlefield 4 gamers have had a rough time over the last few days, with a string of DDoS attacks having taken place over the weekend. The PC game took a hit, and the problem rolled over into various crashes and issues affecting PlayStation 4 gamers. The attackers are yet unknown, but they went after EA’s Origin servers, which initiated the round of problems.

Ransomware email attachment demands Bitcoin payments – A new form of ransomware threatens to scam users into sending Bitcoin payments to cyber criminals. Once activated, the malicious file threatens to encrypt the user’s files unless a ransom is paid.

Some password managers are safer than others – Susan Taylor worries that password managers may not be sufficiently secure. “What if the password manager company is hacked?”

Six more arrested in breathtaking $45 million ATM theft – Six more alleged participants were arrested Monday in a $45 million global ATM fraud, including one man who was photographed stuffing $800,000 into a suitcase, federal prosecutors in New York said. The defendants are alleged to be part of a New York cell that used bogus payment cards to withdraw millions of dollars from more than 100 ATMs in a matter of hours, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Company News:

Google Pays $17 Million Settlement Over ‘No Harm’ Browser Privacy Violations – Google has agreed to pay $17 million to 37 states for circumventing privacy settings in Apple’s Safari Browser in 2011. Safari blocked tracking cookies by default, but Google overrode the settings. Stanford researchers discovered the problem, leading to a nationwide investigation. New York’s Attorney General wrote an overjoyed press release, announcing “nearly $900K from Google to prevent future violations of consumer privacy”. Google has also paid $22.5M to the FTC over the same issue.

F-Secure Offers Lifetime Security – Rather than cover all your devices for one year, the F-Secure Internet Security PC Lifetime License covers one PC for its entire lifetime, which F-Secure defines as seven years. Users will get the exact same protection offered by F-Secure Internet Security 2014, updating to all new versions that appear during the seven-year subscription. It’s definitely a novel approach.

Decision day for Nokia as shareholders set to vote on Microsoft deal – After announcing the planned sale of its devices business to Microsoft, Nokia’s shareholders will vote today on whether to accept the $7.35bn deal, which is expected to be completed in early 2014.

Google Books legal epic moves to appeals court – Google’s defense has been that its search results only display “snippets” of text from books that it copied without permission, but the Authors Guild argues that the company violated copyright law.

Apple buys Israeli chip maker PrimeSense : Report – Reports suggest that Apple has acquired PrimeSense, potentially in order to innovate in the field of 3D sensor technology.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One Machinima app to offer Wingman video help for four games at launch – Microsoft has announced that the Machinima app for Xbox One will offer Wingman video help for four games made for the console at launch, along with new video achievements.

PlayStation 4 Blue Light of DEATH BLAMED on power cords, TV sets, butterflies in China – According to Sony, the error condition can be triggered by anything from TV compatibility issues (which can be fixed by updating the set’s firmware) to issues with the PS4’s power supply (a potentially dangerous fix not recommended for the untrained.) Other possible causes for the blue light fault alert include broken or loose hard drive connections or software and formatting issues.

10 Games That Might Make the PS4 Great – There’s no doubt that the PS4’s launch titles were weak. But there’s hope on the horizon with these 10 titles.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Two million tiny Raspberry Pi computers have now been sold – The Raspberry Pi Foundation has revealed that it has now sold over two million of its tiny, ultra-affordable computers, reaching this latest sales milestone several months earlier than expected.

NFL, MLB Threaten To Ditch Broadcast If Aereo Wins In Court – In the never-ending court battle between Aereo and major network broadcasters who’d have Aereo shut down, the NFL and MLB are chiming in on the matter. The MLB and NFL are asking the supreme court to rule against Aereo, threatening to move their programming from free broadcast channels to paid cable networks like ESPN. This isn’t the first time that Aereo opponents have made threats.

Decade-long study shows video games not linked to negative social behavior – A study has been released this month by a group working with the University of Glasgow which shows the effects of television and video game use in children starting at age 5 spanning through age 7.

iSheep, Fandroids, and why we care so damn much about our smartphones – CNET’s no stranger to the vitriol being hurled around by passionate handset users. (Skim through the comments section of any major phone review and you’ll see.) But we just had to ask: Why all the hate?

Philips LED carpet turns floors into incredibly helpful dynamic signage – Philips doesn’t just make light bulbs, the company has done lots of cool things with LEDs (like those awesome Hue bulbs). Now they’re teaming up with the carpet wizards at Desso to create some of the coolest fuzzy flooring you’ll ever find beneath your feet. It’s called light transmissive carpet, and Philips says it’s going to change the way people interact with with their indoor environments.

Man buys clay iPad, gets put in jail for wanting refund – A UK man buys an iPad from a reputable retailer. Inside the box, he says he found merely clay. Soon after he goes to complain, he finds himself being carted to jail and accused of fraud.

Something to think about:

Your car is Japanese. Your beer is German. Your wine is Spanish. Your democracy is Greek. Your coffee is Colombian. Your tea is Chinese. Your watch is Swiss. Your fashion is French. Your shirt is Indian. Your shoes are Thai. Your radio is Korean. Your vodka is Russian. And then you complain that your neighbor is an immigrant?”

–     Unknown

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair Portable – Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including registry errors and file permissions.

Simple Port Forwarding – Whether you don’t understand how to forward ports, or your simply looking for an easier way to forward ports then this program is for you. Simple Port Forwarding works with webpages and not directly with your router making it a safe program to use.

SpywareBlaster – Spywareblaster protects you from known unwanted websites including Active-x installs, hijackers, cookies and more. Over 13 million downloads for good reason.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Supreme Court Rejects NSA Case Without Explanation – The Supreme Court has rejected a call to challenge the National Security Agency’s secret telephone record surveillance program. Without explanation, the high court refused to entertain a suit from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, seeking to stop the intelligence organization’s bulk data collection program.

NSA spy program ignored rules designed to protect privacy – One US spy program had been approved, but only with careful considerations to privacy, but once the NSA began using it, they ignored the rules designed to protect the innocent.

Five takeaways from the NSA and Internet surveillance disclosures – The ripples from Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing on NSA surveillance tactics continue to be felt. What are the biggest takeaways for those in the technology field?

NSA Spying Prompts Yahoo to Encrypt All Products – The move comes about a month after Yahoo said that email encryption with a 2048-bit key – or HTTPS – will be on be default by Jan. 8. A single day of data collection last year resulted in 444,743 email address books from Yahoo. That’s significantly higher than the 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, and 33,697 from Gmail, which the paper suggested was because Yahoo messages are not encrypted by default.

British spies monitor hotel bookings of diplomats around the world – The U.K.’s intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has reportedly built an automated system to track the hotel bookings of foreign diplomats when travelling abroad for international summits or work meetings.

Court order allowing NSA data collection revealed – Trove of documents released by the Obama administration appears to contain 2004 opinion authorizing the agency’s massive data collection program.

Surveillance Infrastructure Showing Signs of Decay – Buried underneath the ever-growing pile of information about the mass surveillance methods of the NSA is a small but significant undercurrent of change that’s being driven by the anger and resentment of the large tech companies that the agency has used as tools in its collection programs.

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