Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 21, 2013

Securing your phone – essential steps;  iPhones in 14 percent of all NYC crime; Real-time translated conversation – Google Translate;  OpenSUSE 13.1 – new version;  Ultrabook Buying Guide 2013;  Cryptolocker: The evolution of extortion;  Download CryptoPrevent;  Winamp killed;  Xbox One: 15 things you need to know;  4 Price Trackers That Can Save You a Fortune;  Google Launches Newsstand For Android.

Essential steps for securing your phone – As smartphone theft grows, handset owners need to do all they can to secure their devices. Read the steps you can take and find just what else the industry is, and is not, doing.

iPhones now involved in 14 percent of all NYC crime – The NYPD says Apple product resale values are so high that organized crime rings can’t get enough of them. The force is asking pawnshops to keep electronic records of all iPhones they purchase.

Carriers slammed for rejecting smartphone ‘kill switch’ – Law enforcement officials trying to rein in violent smartphone theft have criticized cellular operators who they say rejected a solution that would help address the problem. The officials have been pushing for a “kill switch” that could render smartphones inoperable after they’re stolen, reducing the incentive for crime. But news reports this week suggested carriers have rejected the idea.

Google Translate for Android gets conversational – Google announced an update on Wednesday for its Translate app for Android that promises faster speech translation, support for more languages, and an updated user interface. Perhaps the most attractive portion of the update is the ability for people who speak different languages to have a real-time translated conversation. The translation process involves touching the app’s microphone and rotating the screen to switch between the languages. (See Today’s Free Downloads, below.)

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to live large on every battery charge – While it’s easier to find outlets for charging your mobile device in vehicles and public places these days, there will always be the occasion when you need to nurse the battery in your laptop, smartphone, or tablet because you can’t charge it. Whether you forgot bring your charger, are stuck in the woods, or you simply want to revel in the un-tethered-ness of it all, here are some tricks for achieving longer run time.

4 Price Trackers That Can Save You a Fortune – Here are four great price tracking apps, websites and services that can help you figure out the best times to buy.

Google Launches Newsstand For Android, Combines Google Play Magazines And Currents Into A Single App – Google today launched Google Play Newsstand for Android, an app that brings together the current Google Play Magazines app available in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia, as well as Google Currents, the company’s answer to apps like Flipboard. The Play Newsstand will feature about 1,900 free and paid publications.

Majority of Snapchat users are women – About 70 percent of the photo and video messaging app’s users are women, according to a Wall Street Journal account of the CEO’s talk at a closed-door conference.

OpenSUSE 13.1: Major community Linux has a new version – Red Hat has Fedora and SUSE has openSUSE. Both are community-based Linux distributions that point the way to their business distributions: Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) for Red Hat and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SUSE. Today, it’s SUSE’s turn to look into the future of enterprise Linux with the release of openSUSE 13.1.

Ultrabook Buying Guide 2013: How to find the right Ultrabook – Don’t know what specs a laptop has to sport to bear Intel’s Ultrabook seal of approval? Don’t worry: We’ll tell you everything you need to know about this ultra-portable line of laptops.

Techie ways to celebrate Hanukkah – Update your family traditions this Hanukkah with the help of technology. And no, we’re not talking about dreidel and menorah apps, but those are out there too! In this Tech Minute, CNET’s Kara Tsuboi brings us some festive tech ideas for celebrating the holiday.

Winamp killed after 15 years of media playing – Much-loved media player Winamp will shutter on December 20, 2013.  The news, quietly announced alongside version 5.66 of the software, ends fifteen years of the app being offered, with the Winamp team warning that anybody wanting a copy before it’s pulled should download soon. (See Today’s Free Downloads, below.)

YouTube arrives on the Xbox One – A revamped YouTube experience has arrived just in time for the Xbox One launch this Friday, paving the way for unfettered access to awkward advertisements and whatever this mouse is doing from the comfort of your couch.

Google’s Schmidt predicts end to global censorship in a DECADE – The Chocolate Factory supremo was speaking at Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday. “First they try to block you; second, they try to infiltrate you; and third, you win. I really think that’s how it works. Because the power is shifted,” he said, according to Reuters. “I believe there’s a real chance that we can eliminate censorship and the possibility of censorship in a decade.” (ROFL!)


90% of workers in Britain cannot resist clicking on a web link – 90% of UK workers surveyed have clicked on a web link embedded in an email with two-thirds (66%) admitting they very rarely first check to ensure the link is genuine, according to Sourcefire.  The study identified three types of clicking behavior…….

Even police departments are paying the Cryptolocker ransom – Generally, law enforcement officials don’t recommend caving in to extortionists. Apparently that rule doesn’t necessarily apply when a police department gets hit with the Cryptolocker malware. The Swansea, Massachusetts PD recently decided that they weren’tt in a position to ignore Crtyptolocker’s demands. Instead they paid around $750 to retrieve the decryption key and get their files back.

Cryptolocker: The evolution of extortion – The Cryptolocker Trojan is an evolution of “ransomware,” not a revolutionary change from past criminal attempts to extort money from PC owners, a security expert said today. And the recent media blitz about the ransomware has elements of exaggeration about it. “There is a bit of hype,” said John Shier, a senior security advisor for U.K.-based Sophos, in an interview today. “Actually, it’s only the latest incarnation of ransomware.”

Download CryptoPrevent – CryptoPrevent is a tiny utility to lock down any Windows OS to prevent infection by the Cryptolocker malware or ‘ransomware’, which encrypts personal files and then offers decryption for a paid ransom. CryptoPrevent artificially implants group policy objects into the registry in order to block certain executables in certain locations from running. Note that because the group policy objects are artificially created, they will not display in the Group Policy Editor on a Professional version of Windows — but rest assured they are still there!

Glut In Stolen Identities Forces Price Cut In Cyberunderground – For $300 or less, you can acquire credentials for a bank account with a balance of $70,000 to $150,000, and $400 is all it takes to get a rival or targeted business knocked offline with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)-for-hire attack. Meanwhile, ID theft and bank account credentials are getting cheaper because there is just so much inventory (a.k.a. stolen personal information) out there.

New backdoor worm found attacking websites running Apache Tomcat – In a blog post published Wednesday, Takashi Katsuki, a researcher at security firm Symantec, said Java.Tomdep appears to be designed to harness the huge amounts of bandwidth and computing power available to Web servers for use in denial-of-service attacks against other machines. Unlike Darkleech and other malware targeting Web servers, there’s no indication that it’s used to attack end users visiting websites. Katsuki explained.

GitHub Resets Users’ Passwords Following Brute Force Attack – The web hosting development site GitHub reset a number of users’ passwords and revoked a slew of user security authorizations this week following a wave of brute-force attacks. According to a blog entry by GitHub’s Security Manager Shawn Davenport yesterday, the incident involved login attempts from almost 40,000 distinct IP addresses and was a slow, concerted effort to break into user accounts using multiple passwords.

Repeated attacks hijack huge chunks of Internet traffic, researchers warn – Huge chunks of Internet traffic belonging to financial institutions, government agencies, and network service providers have repeatedly been diverted to distant locations under unexplained circumstances that are stoking suspicions the traffic may be surreptitiously monitored or modified before being passed along to its final destination.

Company News:

Microsoft Now Sells T-Shirts That Claim Google’s Chrome Steals Your Data – Microsoft has started to sell t-shirts, hats, mugs, and sweatshirts that bear slogans from its Scroogled campaign that needles Google as bad on privacy. I confirmed with the company that the clothing line was released today. It’s more than cheeky.

Google Wallet Pre-Paid Debit Card Released – The long-rumored Google Wallet Card is now a reality. The search giant today launched its first physical payment card, with early support from MasterCard. The piece of plastic serves as a prepaid debit card that allows access to the user’s Wallet Balance at ATMs, banks, and anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

Qualcomm Intros New Line of Processors for the Connected Home – Qualcomm on Wednesday introduced a new embedded processor line through its Atheros subsidiary to “transform networking devices like home gateways, routers, and media servers into ‘Smarthome’ platforms,” the company said at its annual analyst meeting in New York.

Mozilla chalks up thousands of Firefox OS apps – Mozilla claims it has got thousands of apps in its Firefox OS marketplace, and has opened a Stack Overflow page to help answer developer questions.

Yahoo increases share buyback by $5 billion, puts $1 billion in debt on the table – In order to raise the price and value of remaining shares, Yahoo has added $5bn to its stock buyback program.

Games and Entertainment:

Tesco Extra stores in UK to get additional Xbox One consoles for launch – UK residents who didn’t pre-order the Xbox One will be able to get in line at over 100 Tesco Extra locations as they will have some additional units for sale in time for the launch at midnight Friday.

ORIGIN PC releases custom gaming keyboard, mouse, mouse mat – The custom PC gaming company ORIGIN PC has released three new PC gaming peripherals designed to look as sleek as they perform. The BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard ($140) and Taipan mouse ($80) are solid pieces of gaming hardware with some handy gaming features built-in, and the Goliathus mouse mat ($20) gives you smooth, reliable control in any gaming style. All three are now available at the ORIGIN PC Gear Shop.

How to Play Missile Command Inside YouTube – Now you’re wasting time efficiently.

Xbox One: 15 things you need to know – Microsoft’s new console may seem daunting, but here are some key points about the new do-nearly-everything gaming machine.

Check out the full list of Xbox One’s Kinect U.S. voice commands – The full list of voice commands that are recognized by the Kinect sensor in Microsoft’s Xbox One sold in the U.S. has been released as a quick way to learn which phrases the console understands.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The coming tech-lash – Hitherto the tech elite have been exempted from the backlash against the plutocracy. Occupy Wall Street’s protesters made an exception when it came to the people who provided them with their iPhones and iPads. But one of the big developments of 2014 will be the growing peasants’ revolt against the sovereigns of cyberspace. The Silicon elite will cease to be regarded as geeks who happen to be filthy rich and become filthy rich people who happen to be geeks.

Golf to technology: Shove it – In a landmark ruling for humanity, the powers behind golf decide they’ve had enough of viewers calling in to say a ball was moving when it appeared stationary to the naked eye.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s wacky piano is heard for the first time, after 500 years – A bizarre instrument combining a piano and cello has finally been played to an audience more than 500 years after it was dreamt up Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance genius who painted the Mona Lisa, invented the ‘‘viola organista’’ – which looks like a baby grand piano – but never built it, experts say. The viola organista has now come to life, thanks to a Polish concert pianist with a flair for instrument-making and the patience and passion to interpret da Vinci’s plans. (recommended by Michael F.) Thanks Michael. Smile

Ancient Siberian’s skeleton yields links to Europe and Native Americans – All the evidence indicates that the Americas were populated by people who migrated across the Bering Sea at a time when the ice age lowered ocean levels enough to do it. Well, almost all the evidence. Some of the oldest skeletons found in the new world have features that look somewhat European, a link supported by a few pieces of DNA found in some Native American populations. Now, a 20,000-year-old skeleton from Siberia may help clear up the confusion.

Google Takes You Through Middle-Earth, Providing Both An Eagle- And A Hobbit’s-Eye ViewGoogle has launched an ambitious Chrome experiment today, in partnership with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It’s an interactive updated version of those great handdrawn maps Tolkien included in his print edition of the works upon which these movies are based, that provides a guided tour of Middle-earth and the people, elves, trolls, wizards and other beasts that populate it.

Windows 1.0: The flop that made an empire – Two years later than planned, Microsoft’s new graphical operating system went on sale November 20, 1985. It wasn’t worth the wait. But a bigger story was soon to unfold.

Something to think about:

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”

–    Sir Winston Churchill

Today’s Free Downloads:

Traffic Travis – Traffic Travis provides a simple set of tools for monitoring the popularity and potential viewings for a particular Web site. With great instructions and an easy layout, this is a fantastic Internet research tool. Traffic Travis is freeware, but it requires a free online registration. It comes as a compressed file. By providing some exciting Web data in an easy-to-use environment, this program succeeds admirably, and we highly recommend it. (CNET Installer Enabled.)

Winamp 5 Full – Developed to be more than just a player, from MP3s to streaming video. It’s your window to the multimedia world. Winamp is to be discontinued December 20th, 2013.

Google Translate for Android – Translate words and phrases between more than 60 languages using Google Translate for Android. For most languages, you can speak your phrases and hear the corresponding translations.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA’s BFFs not necessarily immune to spying eyes – report – The UK’s Guardian newspaper says the NSA drafted a directive about spying on its closest, “Five Eyes” intelligence allies, and that it swept up metadata on UK citizens.

Institutional investors in AT&T, Verizon demand answers about spying – In an unusual move on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California partnered with major investment firms that have stakes in AT&T and Verizon, hoping to use those firms’ influence to encourage transparency reports from those major telecommunications companies.

Berlin court rules Google privacy policy violates data protection law – Google’s privacy policy and terms of service violate German data protection law, the Regional Court of Berlin ruled Tuesday. The clauses are too vaguely formulated and can restrict the rights of consumers, said the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV), which brought the case. The VZBV complained about 13 privacy policy clauses and 12 terms of service clauses, all of which were ruled invalid, VZBV’s policy officer for legal enforcement, Bianca Skutnik, said on Wednesday. The decision could have far-reaching implications for Google, although it can still appeal the ruling.

Indonesia Halts Military Cooperation over Australian Spying – PM Tony Abbott and Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono are embroiled in a diplomatic row over Australia’s spying activities revealed by Edward Snowden. Indonesia has suspended military and intelligence cooperation with Australia in an escalating diplomatic row sparked by reports that Canberra spied on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Yudhoyono ordered Indonesian security forces to halt joint military exercises, intelligence exchange and anti-people-smuggling operations with Australia until Canberra provided an official response to allegations that his phone, that of his wife and those of other senior government officials were tapped.

Three senators challenge NSA claim that dragnet surveillance is required – The brief argues that after extensive review of the surveillance, the senators have seen no evidence that the bulk collection has provided any “intelligence of value” that could not have been arrived at through less intrusive methods. Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado, Ron Wyden, Democrat senator from Oregon and Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, all members of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Tuesday they filed an amici curiae (friends-of-the-court) brief in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco division.

Swedish police, service providers on collision course over direct access to user data – Saving the data is mandatory for service providers, but automating the process to hand over data is voluntary. Large service providers aren’t on board with the proposal.

China like Internet filters; so does British PM – British Prime Minster David Cameron has found support for his internet crackdown from the People’s Republic of China. Cameron has been attempting to get some support for his “filter the internet to save society as we know it” campaign and it seems that he has received backing from the Chinese.


Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 21, 2013

  1. delenn13

    Hi Bill,

    Grabbed a copy of WinAmp..just for the memories. Thanks.

    My Game Mentor, Whiterabbit has made a list of all the bundles he could find. Easy access to all Indie Game bundles « Giveaway of the Day Forums If you have a gamer on your Christmas list, this might help you out finding the best prices.


    • Hey Delenn13,

      Yeah, me too. 🙂

      Good old WinAmp was one of the first 5 freebies I installed back in the Win 95 days. It definitely set the pace for things to follow. Sorry to see it go.

      Thanks for the gamers list – very complete.