Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 26, 2013

Great, Cheap Prepaid Phone Plans;  12 Cool Win 8.1 Apps;  Simple guide to backing up your PC;  Moborobo – Manage Android from a PC;  Unlimited free holiday music;  10 Must-Have Walmart Black Friday Tech Deals;  How to keep your mobile devices safe;  Ditch your iPhone for Android – Schmidt;  Top Tech Turkeys of 2013;  Snowden stashed “doomsday” cache;  Tablets dwarf other holiday tech gifts.

‘Why Care About the N.S.A.?’ – – NY Times – This Op-Doc video explains why ordinary Americans should be concerned about online surveillance.

The absurdly simple guide to backing up your PC – You know there’s a need. We’ll walk you through the deed.

Facebook reveals friends list even when it’s set to private – Don’t want the entire Facebook-using and -abusing population to see your friends list? You could set your friend list to private, but fat lot of good that will do, given a researcher’s discovery that Facebook sucks out and displays our friends in “People You May Know” feeds, in spite of the setting.

Moborobo – Moborobo lets you send messages; manage data, images, media files, and themes, and even install apps to your smartphone or tablet from any computer. It can be a pain to set up if you don’t know what you’re doing, but it works like a charm once you have it up and running. If you’d rather send texts with your full keyboard or just don’t want to get up to grab your phone, this is a nice download to have. (CNET installer Enabled.)

Great, Cheap Prepaid Phone Plans – All of the major carriers offer prepaid cell phone plans, but so do some of the little guys. You can find some serious bargains if you know where to look.

The Best Day to Shop This Thanksgiving – Are you better off shopping on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday? We do the math.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 Must-Have Walmart Black Friday Tech Deals – This year, Walmart will host expanded “one-hour guarantee” events, which ensures consumers can snag certain items in-store during a one-hour period. The company last year offered the guarantee on three products, but this year it’s expanding the promotion to 21 items, including a $688 60-inch Smart LED 1080p HDTV from Vizio and the non-Retina iPad mini.

Congratulations! You just won Black Friday with these 11 awesome tips – Don’t venture into the jungle of holiday shopping unarmed. Boost your chances of success with these essential Black Friday apps and shopping tips.

Retailers’ in-store mobile pitches may backfire, survey – According to ISACA, 67 percent of U.S. consumers think personalized pitches are invasive when shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.

Tablets dwarf other holiday tech gifts in CNET survey – A whopping 40 percent of tech shoppers will buy tablets this holiday season according to CNET’s survey of 1,182 readers. That’s nearly twice as many tablets as any other device, with 23 percent shopping for phones, 20 percent for computers, and 17 percent for headphones. Even more readers — 42 percent — want to receive a tablet.

How to change your email address without losing your friends – Think of all the places where your old email address resides, outside of your immediate control, waiting to give people plenty of false information. There are other people’s address books, old messages in people’s inboxes, Web sites that use your address as your logon name, and your business cards. Changing your email address can be quite a chore.

openSuSE 13.1 hands on: Some more thoughts – A few more days, a bit more experience, A lot more details – and a btrfs filesystem installation!

Awesome Chemistry Videos to Your iDevice – The periodic table of elements–surely nothing is as stuffy an uninteresting, right? Goodness, no. You don’t even have to be a chemistry buff to enjoy the new Elements in Action app from Touch Press. This app contains an HD video demonstration of what makes each element on the periodic table notable. It’s also incredibly smooth and fun to play with.

12 Cool Win 8.1 Apps – Among the 120,000 apps in the Windows Store are some clever and impressive Windows 8.1 apps. Here are some of our favorites.

Google Gives Business Owners A Single Place Online To See All Their Customers’ Reviews – Verified business owners who are already using the recently updated Places for Business user interface can now go to their profiles, where they’ll find a new “Reviews” section. There, they will find all of their customers’ online reviews and be able to respond to them. The service also offers some basic review analytics so businesses can track how their reputation changes over time.

WD Black2 pairs SSD and HDD for Fusion Drive style flexibility – Western Digital has outed its latest drive, the WD Black2, pairing a sizable chunk of solid-state storage with a more capacious traditional HDD for the best of both worlds. The 2.5-inch drive has 120GB of SSD capacity and 1TB of HDD space, and gives the option of greater control over which data is stored where, unlike existing caching drives or, indeed, Apple’s proprietary Fusion Drive system.

LoJack system will allow parents, auto makers and insurance companies to track vehicles – LoJack, whose technology has for years allowed law enforcement to track down stolen vehicles, plans to release a device for parents and others to track family vehicles. The devices will not only collect data about vehicle locations, but also about how well someone is driving. It would also be able to restrict talking or texting on a smartphone while a vehicle is in operation.

How to get unlimited free holiday music on your phone or tablet – With the exception of iTunes Radio, which is available only for iOS devices, most of the services listed below are available for most mobile platforms.

Thai man reportedly ‘electrocuted’ by charging iPhone – The man was found dead with severe burns on his chest and also on his hand which held the phone, so badly that his skin was sticking to it. Police suspect electrocution via the phone charger, which appears to be fake.

Security:

LG decides its TVs *don’t* steal personal information – “viewing info” isn’t personal – The story of LG’s “data stealing” TVs continues to twist and turn, with LG now on its third version of what happened, and why. LG is sorry for the confusion caused by reports of problems, but not for the problems themselves – in fact, it doesn’t seem to think they’re a problem at all…

How to keep your mobile devices safe this holiday season – Many thousands of smartphones and tablets will be lost this year. These tips, tricks, and apps will help your gadgets make it safely into the new year.

Fake tech support scam is trouble for legitimate remote help company – Fraudsters who use remote desktop support programs while scamming their victims have made it difficult for at least one legitimate IT company to convince users that it’s not trying to steal their money.

Red October crypto app adopts “two-man rule” used to launch nukes – Engineers at content delivery network CloudFlare have released open source encryption software that’s designed to prevent rogue employees from accessing sensitive information by decrypting data only when two or more people provide keys.

Symantec: ‘Blackshades’ malware still being sold – The security vendor has seen an uptick in infections as well as command-and-control servers.

Company News:

Couric Hire Is Key To Yahoo’s Mobile Strategy – A technology company hiring a media personality might not make sense at first, but if you dig through the company’s recent past, it begins to make more sense. In a widely leaked move, Yahoo has hired Katie Couric to be its Global Anchor. The role, kicking off in 2014, will frame Couric as the face and leading voice of Yahoo’s growing news and content arm.

Amazon counters undercover BBC report showing harsh working conditions – Amazon has been the target of an undercover report that looked into working conditions for employees at its warehouse near Swansea, something that will air this evening on the BBC’s Panorama. The undercover report shows unfavorable conditions that could prove unhealthy to workers, but Amazon has spoken out against such claims, saying that it has taken steps to make sure its work shifts “comply with all relevant legal requirements.”

BlackBerry shakeup claims operating, marketing and finance chiefs – Struggling mobile vendor’s COO, CFO and CMO to leave after arrival of new CEO Chen; no replacements named.

Microsoft may put Windows RT out of its misery soon – Betting pools on when Windows RT will officially be killed off are now open, tech fans. Microsoft’s ready to acknowledge that three consumer operating systems is at least one too many.

Ditch your iPhone for Android, says Google’s TOTALLY UNBIASED Eric Schmidt – His overall intention, however, is crystal clear as the guide makes no attempt at balance: Schmidt assumes you’re going Google from end-to-end and offers instructions accordingly. He even suggests iPhone owners could consider doing without a final backup for their photos and instead “… send them to Gmail and download into the Android phone.”

Qualcomm Taking Pre-Orders for Black Toq Smartwatch – The chip maker is now taking pre-orders for its first smartwatch, which syncs with Android smartphones via Bluetooth to deliver alerts, messages, and updates to your wrist.

Intel seeks $500 million for OnCue Internet TV service – The tech giant is asking potential suitors for $500 million to purchase OnCue, and hopes to finalize a deal before the end of the year.

Games and Entertainment:

Watching TV in Europe inside Xbox One suffers from 50Hz limitations – European users of the Xbox One report that watching TV from within the console causes the signal to pause or judder thanks to the 50Hz setup on European TVs versus the 60Hz output on the console.

Killzone: Shadow Fall Review – As one of the first PlayStation 4 exclusive launch-titles, and the only first-person shooter on that short list, Killzone: Shadow Fall had some high expectations to live up to. What we saw in previous installments of this series was a gritty bit of darkness, all-out war and killing with only the lights of the enemy’s eyes to steer the player. Here we’ve dropped in on the planet Vekta, a lush, gorgeous environment where the two factions of humanoids, the Vektans and the Helghast, have continued what’s effectively become a civil war.

Microsoft giving free game download codes to owners of faulty Xbox One units – Microsoft is sending emails to owners of faulty Xbox One units offering them a free game download code as compensation for their issues with its latest console hardware.

Assassin’s Creed: Pirates to hit smartphones and tablets Dec. 5 – Hot on the heels of the Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag release for PCs and consoles, a new Assassin’s Creed title is coming to handhelds, Ubisoft has announced. The new game will be available on iOS and Android devices beginning Dec. 5. The price of the game is a drop-in-the-bucket $4.99.

Shooter Game Space Qube Lets You Order 3D Prints Of Your Voxel Creations – Space Qube is a fun new addition for fans of voxel games with cool twist–you can bring the characters you build out of virtual reality and into real-life by ordering 3D prints of them. The retro-style space shooter for iOS gained traction after scoring the Best In Play award at this year’s GDC, as well as placing as a Sense of Wonder Night’s finalist at the Tokyo Game Show.

Microsoft Confirms That “Excessive Profanity” In Xbox Upload Studio Videos Can Cost You Account Privileges – Reports have surfaced over the past 24 hours that Xbox users are losing their Xbox Live account privileges after uploading profanity-laced videos. Xbox One customers complained that they were losing the ability to use Skype and other applications on their consoles. Microsoft today released a statement regarding the account bans, quashing the side rumor that swearing in private Skype calls could result in account suspensions.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Have you heard of the Happy Hour virus? – Created by an advertising agency in Boulder, Colorado, the web-borne Happy Hour Virus lets you deliberately simulate a security problem in order to leave work early.

Top Tech Turkeys of 2013 – Thanksgiving is a time to convene family and friends to feast on delicious meals. And, here at Network World, it’s also the time to look back on the people and companies in the tech world that goofed up and did crazy, annoying and/or stupid stuff. So, grab some turkey and enjoy our list of Top Tech Turkeys for 2013.

Petition to turn Winamp into open source software has over 12,000 signatures – An online petition asking AOL to turn over its Winamp software to the open source community, rather than shut down its development, has generated over 12,000 online signatures so far.

If Inaccuracy Were Illegal, The Feds Would Have To Regulate Most Health Gadgets – The accuracy of consumer health gadgets varies widely across the spectrum, yet this hasn’t stopped the FDA from suspending popular genetic testing company 23andMe over concerns about the quality of their diagnostics. 23andMe may be at fault, but so is a large part of the entire health tech industry.

23andMe defies FDA order to halt testing – 23andMe continues to sell its genetic sequencing tests despite a government order to stop.

India’s Nuclear Scientists Keep Dying Mysteriously – Indian nuclear scientists haven’t had an easy time of it over the past decade. Not only has the scientific community been plagued by “suicides,” unexplained deaths, and sabotage, but those incidents have gone mostly underreported in the country—diluting public interest and leaving the cases quickly cast off by police. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Marble WiFi router lets you grow a small plant on its surface – As technology ever-encroaches into our daily lives, it can be harder to stop and smell the flowers, both literally and figuratively. The Consortium for Slower Internet is aware of such an issue, and wants to make you aware of it, too, via its marble and wood router. With this router, which to the naked eye appears to be an organic brick with a couple antennas coming out the rear, you can grow a small plant that serves as a reminder to unplug every so often and enjoy nature.

Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries – Many of us yearn for a return to one golden age or another. But there’s a community of bloggers taking the idea to an extreme: they want to turn the dial way back to the days before the French Revolution. Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, democracy has actually done more harm than good. They propose a return to old-fashioned gender roles, social order and monarchy.

RAF P-40 missing for 70 years found largely intact in Sahara desert – WWII has been over for nearly 70 years now, but some aircraft and soldiers are still missing. One of the mysteries of WWII has been solved with a largely intact RAF fighter plane recently being discovered deep in the Sahara desert. The aircraft is said to be largely intact.

Something to think about:

How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”

–     Ronald Reagan

Today’s Free Downloads:

BlitzBank 1.0 – A tool for experienced users. It deletes files, registry entries and drivers before Windows and all other programs are loaded.

Cain and Abel 4.9.47 – Cain & Abel is a password recovery tool for Microsoft Operating Systems. It allows easy recovery of various kind of passwords by sniffing the network, cracking encrypted passwords using Dictionary, Brute-Force and Cryptanalysis attacks, recording VoIP conversations, decoding scrambled passwords, recovering wireless network keys, revealing password boxes, uncovering cached passwords and analyzing routing protocols.

Sandboxie Beta 4.07.04 – Sandboxie runs programs in an isolated space which prevents them from making permanent changes to other programs and data in your computer. Sandboxie stable also available.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Busting Eight Common Excuses for NSA Mass Surveillance – We’ve heard from lots of folks who are passionately concerned about the NSA’s mass spying, but are struggling to get their friends and family to understand the problem and join the over a half-million people who have demanded change through stopwatching.us and elsewhere. You need to be prepared to respond to the common refrains of folks confused, nonplussed, or simply exhausted from the headlines. So here’s a cheat sheet to help you talk about the NSA spying when you’re with family and friends.

NSA-busting secure, open, router seeks cash and code from crowd – Australian embedded systems designer Redfish is hoping to attract funding from the crowd to market a secure routing platform that open-sources both the hardware and software to protect users from unwanted snooping. Speaking to The Register ahead of the launch, Redfish managing director Justin Clacherty said the project is designed to get security in front of ordinary users – those who don’t have the skills or confidence to set up complex crypto schemes or dive into the world of TOR.

The real diplomatic scandal? Australia helped the US with its dirty work – We deserve the embarrassment and awkwardness resulting from the ongoing spying row with Indonesia – a public debate over the excessive scope of state surveillance is badly needed.

Reuters: Snowden stashed “doomsday” cache as insurance policy against harm – US and British intelligence officials are concerned former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has stored an online “doomsday” cache of extraordinarily sensitive classified information that will be unpacked in the event he is arrested or physically harmed, according to a report published Monday.

Thales, Microsoft serve secure crypto in the cloud – Microsoft and Thales e-Security have deployed an architecture for encrypted cloud storage where you, the customer, control the keys and the provider has none.

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