Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 27, 2013

Black Friday: The truth about its dubious deals;  The 100 Best Android Apps of 2013;  VIOLENT video games make KIDS SMARTER;  Android apps for holiday cooking and baking;  Get a grip on TOR with Vidalia;  Social engineering red flags and tips;  Android apps for holiday cooking and baking; 4 Signs You Love Your Tech Too Much;  Toolwiz Time Freeze.

Black Friday: The truth about its dubious deals – A closer look at the deals around Black Friday show how the date has become a buzzword to trick people into pulling the trigger on shoddy deals. Retailers are manipulating prices and the products themselves just to get you into the store. Once you’re in the store, they’ve already won. So before you camp out in line, read on to learn the real deal about Black Friday.

Understanding Snowden’s impact on IT… in 2 minutes – When Edward Snowden leaked 200,000 classified documents that uncovered the NSA’s digital surveillance programs, it rocked the IT world. We break down the three biggest impacts.

Get a grip on TOR with Vidalia – For most people, Vidalia is only a type of sweet onion. However, there’s another Vidalia that all web surfers should know, regardless of their culinary preferences — and that’s the graphical control panel of the Tor Browser Bundle.

Google Makes Talking To Your Computer Slightly Less Crazy With Speech Search Chrome Extension – Google has a new Chrome extension released today that brings a recent mobile feature to the desktop. The feature is automatic voice search, which is triggered whenever you utter the phrase “Okay, Google.” The company announced the new feature on Google+ today, (via 9to5Google), and it’s live now and available for users in U.S. English.

Learn the secrets of Google Now voice commands (infographic) – This handy chart lists more than 60 commands for interacting with Google’s voice assistant, including some fun Easter eggs. They work with the iOS version, too.

The 100 Best Android Apps of 2013 – Navigate the galaxy of apps in Google Play with this handy, curated list of the 100 best Android apps.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Must-have Android apps for holiday cooking and baking – With Thanksgiving planning upon us, Hanukkah starting tomorrow, and the rest of the holidays right around the corner, there’s a lot of pressure to cook, bake, and show up to events bearing food and drinks. Luckily, all the recipes and drink suggestions you could ever need can fit on your Android phone, thanks to a plethora of cooking apps in the Play Store.

IDrive Facebook Backup saves your pics and video to the cloud – When it comes to taking pictures of family and friends, a huge number of people rely on snapping the pics with their smartphone or tablet and uploading them to Facebook. While Facebook is online and makes for a relatively safe place to store your photos, you should still back up the photos since they often can’t be replaced.

How to reset the Wi-Fi password at your parents’ house on your holiday travels – Nothing spoils holiday travel quite like getting locked out of the house Wi-Fi. Here’s how to help your folks set their networks aright.

YouTube hilariously impotent against ASCII comment pornographers – There are now new and worse ways to propagate spam and immaterial content below videos, which has created an avalanche of complaints and outcries from both viewers and content creators. It seems as if Google can’t move fast enough to give its users tools to manage the triumphantly abusive and off-topic trolls of YouTube.

Five free Android apps for easy SMB connection – Each of these tools is free and makes the task of connecting to your shares a snap. Once connected, you’ll be copying and/or moving files back and forth with ease. All of these applications work well with either Android tablets or smartphones and do not require root access or the most up-to-date version of Android. Let’s dig in and see which of these is best suited for you.

VIOLENT video games make KIDS SMARTER says new study. Moral panic, meet some facts – The research, published in the latest issue of American Psychologist, found that modern video games are much more socially orientated, thanks to the growth on massive online gaming environments, and that certain types of game can help kids learn problem-solving skills and creativity.

10+ things you should know before buying Office 365 – Office 365 can be a good fit in certain circumstances. If you’re thinking about it, here are the basic facts you need to know before you buy in.

How to get Windows Media Center working with Xbox One – A member of Neowin’s forum community has posted up a way to get a Windows Media Center-based PC to display inside the user interface of Microsoft’s new Xbox One console.

A guide to new storage technologies for legacy hardware – With these novel storage solutions from various Asian manufacturers, you can break your reliance on years-old hard drives and floppy disks deployed with legacy terminals.

Tablets to Make Up Half the PC Market in 2014 – Research firm Canalys on Tuesday predicted that tablets will nearly out ship all other PC form factors combined next year, accounting for almost 50 percent of the PC market, which also includes desktops and notebooks. Tablets accounted for 40 percent of PC shipments in the third quarter of 2013, less than half a million units behind global notebook shipments. The overall worldwide PC market grew 18 percent in Q3, even as desktop and notebook shipments continued their downward slide

Headphone buying guide – In-ear vs. on-ear, circumaural vs. supraaural, open vs. closed back — shopping for the right pair of headphones can be tough, but CNET’s on the job with a buying guide to help you narrow down your choices.


Social engineering red flags and tips for training users – Social engineering leads to dangerous security lapses and is notoriously difficult to prevent. Make sure your organization’s users can spot the most obvious red flags.

Study Says Rich, White Parents Are Less Concerned About Online Safety – How concerned are you about your kids’ safety when it comes to the Internet? According to a collaborative study between Northwestern University and Microsoft Research, the answer to that question may very well depend on your politics, your yearly income and other demographic factors.

QuizUp App Glitch Leaks Private User Data – In less than three weeks, mobile trivia app QuizUp has topped the iTunes charts, but the popular social app is in the headlines today for alleged security concerns. Software developer Kyle Richter on Monday wrote a lengthy blog post that detailed a privacy issues that allows the app to share private information between users without consent.

‘Neverquest’ trojan threatens online banking users – Attackers could start to aggressively distribute this malware in the near future, Kaspersky Lab researchers warn

Bitcoin’s skyrocketing value ushers in era of $1 million hacker heists – A company billing itself as one of Europe’s biggest Bitcoin exchanges said it suffered a coordinated attack that succeeded in stealing almost $1 million worth of the digital currency, marking the latest in a string of high-stakes heists hitting companies that hold large sums online.

Malware: War without end – After decades of fighting off viruses, worms, Trojans and other malware and cyberattacks, total victory remains beyond reach.

PlayStation Network passwords resetting now as precautionary measure – As early as last week on the 20th of November, users of the PlayStation Network (aka PSN) have seen their passwords reset without prompt. According to Sony support forum admins, this reset was done “purely as a precautionary measure” without specific evidence of any accounts being compromised. Users who find their passwords not working are being told to do a simple reset using the normal “Forgotten Password” button tap.

Company News:

Google hit with privacy complaints in 14 E.U. Countries – IDG News Service – Google was hit by privacy complaints in 14 E.U. countries Tuesday over its new terms of service that allow user photos and comments in advertising. Those changes to Google’s terms of service violate European data protection law, according to privacy advocate Simon Davies, who lodged the complaints.

Microsoft Enlists Pawn Stars To Mock Google’s Chromebooks – Microsoft’s anti-Google Scroogled campaign is showing no signs of slowing down. Its latest target is Google’s Chromebook. Microsoft has enlisted the stars of the successful reality TV series Pawn Stars to lampoon what it wants you to perceive as the Chromebook’s limitations (“It’s not a real laptop!”).

BlackBerry pushes BBM with Android preloads – The agreement – which will affect select Android phones offered in Africa, India, Indonesia, Latin America, and the Middle East – won’t force new owners to register for a BBM account, but it will put the app right in front of them, as BlackBerry tries to push its cross-platform service out from under the shadow of BlackBerry 10.

Target (Yes, That Target) Wants To Launch An Accelerator In India – Target has long looked to India to fuel its software applications and back-office projects. Now, the Minneapolis-based retailer is doubling down on the country’s tech potential.

Sony files patent for ‘SmartWig’ sensor hairpiece – Potential uses of the headwear include in road navigation, checking blood pressure or flipping through of slides in a presentation. Besides wireless communication, it will also include tactile feedback.

Games and Entertainment:

10 Great Windows Phone Games for Xbox One Fans – The XBox One is here, and Windows Phone is the only mobile platform that plugs directly into the XBox infrastructure. These 10 games will keep you in an XBox One state of mind.

GTA: San Andreas coming to Windows Phone and other platforms in December – Rockstar Games has announced that in December, it will be bringing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to mobile devices, including Windows Phone, iOS, Amazon Kindle and a selection of Androids.

Sony to offer 18 entertainment apps for PS4 in Europe and other regions on Friday – Sony has announced that Europe and other regions that will have the PlayStation 4 console launch on Friday will be able to download and use a number of streaming entertainment apps.

LEGO The Hobbit video game to launch in 2014 – Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment, TT Games, and LEGO have announced a new video game is coming to the popular LEGO game franchise next year. The game will be called LEGO The Hobbit and will put players into the big feet of Bilbo Baggins and his friends. The exact launch date for the game in 2014 is unannounced at this time.

Microsoft begins Xbox 360 downloadable Black Friday game sales today – Microsoft has begun its Black Friday 2013 downloadable game sales for the Xbox 360 a few days ahead of the day itself, with additional sales to be added on Friday and Monday, December 2nd.

The past returns in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – A Link Between Worlds is now the best reason to own a 3DS and likely the best bang for your buck you’ll get this holiday season. If you own a 3DS, there’s really no excuse not to play. If you don’t own one, there’s never been a better time.

Off Topic (Sort of):

US download speeds sluggish compared with other countries – Does your Internet download speed seem painfully sloth-like? This could be a result of the country you live in. The US ranks a lowly 31st in the world’s consumer download speeds.

Bonkless Brits fondling slabs, not each other – Brits are doing it less often than they did twenty years ago, according to researchers from University College, London – and one reason could be the fragmentation of home life. The depressing datum, especially if it were replicated around the world, is that from a mean of 6.2 encounters per month for men and 6.3 for women in 2001, the most recent National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles finds the numbers are now 4.9 times per month for men and 4.8 for women.

4 Signs You Love Your Tech Too Much – We all love tech here – we did make a website devoted to it, after all. But there’s a fine line between loving your tech and loving your tech too much.

“Internet Minute” snapshots show how the Web has grown in a year – The Internet grows in leaps and bounds, something various statistics have shown in a variety of ways. Percentages are one way to show this, as very large numbers can be hard to digest, but something being called an “Internet Minute” has provided an interesting perspective on the growth, comparing numbers taken from a single minute last year from six big Internet companies with numbers taken from the same companies this year.

Senators Want Tech Companies To Serve As Alternative – Eight Democratic senators are finally asking the Obama Administration to let startups act as an alternative to the malfunctioning healthcare website, “There are long-term advantages to providing Americans multiple ways to find and sign up for the health coverage that best meets their needs,” reads the letter to the Department of Health And Human Services.

Online Georgia Jury Survey Lists ‘Slave’ as Occupation – An online questionnaire for jurors in Georgia’s DeKalb County gave potential jurors the option to list “slave” as their occupation before officials removed the term shortly after being alerted to it, local television news station WXIA reported Tuesday.

No books here: New Texas library is all digital – San Antonio’s BiblioTech, believed to be the first public bookless library in the US, offers computers, Internet access, e-readers, and technology classes.

Something to think about:

Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor.”

–     Robert Frost

Today’s Free Downloads:

Toolwiz Time Freeze – With a simple click, it puts your actual system under virtual protection on the fly and creates a virtual environment as a copy of the real system, on which you can evaluate applications, watch movies, and perform online activities. It provides higher-level security to computer protection, and greatly improves the efficiency of virtual system.

Combofix – ComboFix is a program, created by sUBs, that scans your computer for known malware, and when found, attempts to clean these infections automatically. In addition to being able to remove a large amount of the most common and current malware, ComboFix also displays a report that can be used by trained helpers to remove malware that is not automatically removed by the program. You should not run ComboFix unless you are specifically asked to by a helper.

Hardwipe 3.1.1 – Hardwipe can be used to permanently erase, or to “hard wipe”, data on disk and portable storage media to prevent personal and sensitive business information from ever being recovered. It can wipe entire drives, wipe files individually, and sanitize unused drive space. It supports right-click context menus within Windows file explorer, or can just be used as a standalone application.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Verizon, BT, Vodafone, Level 3 ‘let NSA hook into Google, Yahoo! Fiber’ – Out of the telcos accused of opening up their connectivity links, network service provider Level 3 Communications is said to have been a particularly willing participant in the practice, the New York Times alleged. Level 3 did not respond to requests for comment on the matter. Communications providers Verizon Communications, BT Group and Vodafone – also named in the same NYT article – have previously maintained they are required to follow the law when government agents come knocking. In November, the trio were accused of handing Blighty’s GCHQ access to vital undersea cabling carrying the public internet.

Microsoft reportedly boosting security efforts in light of suspected NSA spying – Earlier today, sources spoke to The New York Times about a suspected tapping of fiber optic cables as the means by which the NSA managed to gather vast amounts of Internet data. Following this, sources — which may or may not be related to the NYT’s sources — told the Washington Post that Microsoft is rapidly boosting its encryption plans in light of concern that the NSA could be intercepting its traffic.

Eurocrats recommend right to sue American companies over snooping – The European Commission is calling for better protection of its citizens’ data, against intrusion by American agencies like the NSA. According to Reuters, the commission wants European citizens to have the right to sue in America over misuse of their data – something the US has promised but not yet implemented. The report quotes EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding as saying “I have … made clear that Europe expects to see the necessary legislative change in the U.S. sooner rather than later, and in any case before summer 2014”.

EFF wants the FBI to release surveillance rationale – The U.S Federal Bureau of Investigation should make public a legal opinion it used to justify a past telephone records surveillance program because other agencies may still be relying on the document for surveillance justifications, the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued in court Tuesday.

US puts Assange charge in too-hard basket – report – US authorities have decided not to prosecute Wikileaker-in-chief Julian Assange, because to do so would mean also mean prosecutions of US-based media, according to The Washington Post. The Post says it has had some off-the-record chats with Justice Department officials who have said it’s proving hard to build a case against Assange. Figuring out how to sue the news outlets that published his leaks is easier but is a path few governments like to tread as it is a colossally bad look to do anything that even looks like it might in the right light resemble a clampdown on the free press.

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