Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 4, 2013

10 tips for spotting a phishing email;  How to pick the best portable PC;  How to Perform a Windows 8.1 Refresh;  6 killer gaming utilities;  Tweak-SSD free;  PC market forecast – 10% downturn;   Comodo BackUp free;  Two million pilfered passwords found;  Parrot drones – hack drones within radio range;  Xbox One in stock again;  Word of the year isn’t selfie, it’s science. 

10 tips for spotting a phishing email – Phishing emails insinuate themselves into inboxes year-round, but the holidays bring out a rash of new scams. Help your users spot “fishy” emails.

Mask Your Credit Cards for Safe Holiday Shopping – Even the most trustworthy online merchant might get hit by a data breach, and if they haven’t properly secured their data, your credit card details might be at risk. Fortunately, there’s a way to shop without revealing your credit card number. The privacy specialists at Abine are making their “Masked Cards” service available for free until December 26th. If you choose to continue using it after the holidays, the service costs $5 per month.

The 5 Best Sites for One-Stop Online Shopping – Here are five excellent sites that let you consolidate your virtual shopping trips by bringing different items—and even different stores—together in a single place.

Ultrabook, laptop, hybrid or Chromebook? How to pick the best portable PC – The laptop world has burst into a cornucopia of niches. Specialized Chromebooks, Ultrabooks, and laptop-tablet hybrids have muscled into the territory of traditional notebooks in a bid to more closely target your needs and stand out from the traditional portable-PC crowd. Which type of laptop is right for you? Read on, and you’ll know by the time we’re done.

How to Perform a Windows 8.1 Refresh – While PC Reset will return your system to a “just out of the box” state PC Refresh is much more versatile, and with the right preparation renders PC Reset completely unnecessary. Note: I highly recommend you create a custom refresh image before you find yourself in a situation where you actually need to use it. This is especially true for Windows 8 users who have upgraded to Windows 8.1 using the Windows Store. You can find instructions to do so here.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Insanely Popular VSCO Cam Debuts in Google Play, Promises Better Pictures and a Ton of Filters – VSCO Cam promises to produce better images on any phone than the stock camera app that came with your device. This app has an extremely bare bones interface and emphasizes its robust set of filters and editing tools.

7 business card apps for smartphones: Scan ’em, store ’em – If you can’t keep track of your business cards, one of these 7 smartphone apps will help you scan and store all those new contacts.

6 killer utilities for redlining your gaming rig – Smart players spend time tuning, tweaking, and pushing their systems’ capabilities, reaping the benefits of a better gaming experience as a reward. The results are impressive, with games that look and perform better than their developers ever intended, and often the users didn’t have to spend a dime. Give these half-dozen tools a close look to improve the speed, control, and capability of your system. Most are free, and one costs about the same as a drive-through lunch—and all of them give you more of a gaming edge.

Post your Instagram images to your WordPress blog automatically – Polevaultweb’s Instagrate to WordPress plugin lets you post Instagram images to your WordPress blog automatically. Learn how to install and customize the plugin.

RUNSAFER smart shoes to track running health wirelessly – Dubbed EU Project RUNSAFER, the sensor-studded shoe is expected to launch under the Kelme brand in Europe, and is part of a project led by Fraunhofer Institute researchers to go beyond pulse- and breathing-rate, pace, and other typical biometrics currently collected by health wearables.

Microsoft releases Lync for Windows 8.1; app still looks like Skype – Essentially, Lync and Skype do the same thing: store a list of contacts, who you can communicate with either via instant message, audio, or video conferencing. Both Skype and Lync can share screens. One advantage to Lync is that the app maintains a list of upcoming meetings, along with a way to launch Lync directly.

YotaPhone e-ink phone hits Europe, but no US launch yet – The YotaPhone — the quirky Android mobile that has an LCD screen on the front and an e-ink panel on the back — is out in Europe this month. The phone goes on sale in Germany, Austria, France and Spain, for the not-exactly-cheap price of 499 Euros. Yota says the phone is coming to the UK in January, and the Middle East early next year.

Ultra Mobile offers free minutes to international calls in 75 countries – Ultra Mobile, an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) under T-Mobile, announced that starting tomorrow, it will give its customers 1,000 free minutes a month for international calls to more than 70 countries. The carrier will throw in free, unlimited SMS texting to more than 190 countries as well. This service expands on Ultra Mobile’s previous Ultra Zero plan, which was introduced in August.

What Is 4K (Ultra HD)? – Ultra High-Definition (4K) video could upend HDTVs and the entire consumer electronics industry—here’s what you need to know about it right now.

Bleak, bleaker, bleakest: Latest PC market forecast projects historic 10% downturn – This year will go down as the PC industry’s largest contraction, research firm IDC said Monday, with global shipments dropping by double digits and little relief in sight. The dismal numbers will not be welcomed at Microsoft, which sells the bulk of its Windows licenses to computer makers as they assemble new PCs. According to IDC’s revised estimate, 2013 PC shipments will total 314 million, a 10.1% decline from last year’s 349 million.

Mobile Chrome Apps closer than you think – Gossip about Chrome and Android merging is still idle talk, but Google is preparing Chrome Apps to run on iOS and Android — possibly as soon as January.

Security:

Kaspersky and Bitdefender Earn Top Marks for Malware Cleanup – Some antivirus tests are really, really simple. For example, you could run a scan on a test system containing 100,000 static malware samples and record how many of those were detected. Testing how products handle malware that has already infected the system is quite a bit tougher, but can reveal more about an antivirus product’s malware-fighting prowess. That’s what the malware removal test by AV-Comparatives tries to do.

Found: hacker server storing two million pilfered paswords: Credentials belonged to users of Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Twitter and more – Researchers have unearthed a server storing more than two million pilfered login credentials for all kinds of user accounts, including those on Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Twitter, and a handful of other websites. More than 1.5 million of the user names and passwords are for website accounts, including 318,121 for Facebook, 59,549 for Yahoo, 54,437 for Google, and 21,708 for Twitter, according to a blog post published Tuesday by researchers from security firm Trustwave’s Spider Labs. The cache also included credentials for e-mail addresses, FTP accounts, remote desktops, and secure shells.

Beijing leans on Microsoft to maintain Windows XP support – The Chinese government has urged Microsoft to extend support for Windows XP in order to boost Beijing’s anti-piracy efforts and head off a potentially huge security threat. Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of China’s National Copyright Administration, met Microsoft and other software companies in a bid to put some pressure on, according to Techweb.

Wisconsin man sentenced for participating in Anonymous DdoS – Eric J. Rosol, 38, is said to have admitted that on Feb. 28, 2011, he took part in a denial of service attack for about a minute on a Web page of Koch Industries—Kochind.com, using software called a Low Orbit Ion Cannon Code, which was loaded on his computer. Rosol, who pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of accessing a protected computer, was sentenced to two years of federal probation and ordered to pay $183,000 in restitution, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Flying hacker contraption hunts other drones, turns them into zombies – Dubbed SkyJack, the contraption uses a radio-controlled Parrot AR.Drone quadcopter carrying a Raspberry Pi circuit board, a small battery, and two wireless transmitters. The devices run a combination of custom software and off-the-shelf applications that seek out wireless signals of nearby Parrot drones, hijack the wireless connections used to control them, and commandeer the victims’ flight-control and camera systems. SkyJack will also run on land-based Linux devices and hack drones within radio range.

Next generation Stuxnet worm in the works, says Iran news agency – An Iranian news agency says that a new worm more powerful than Stuxnet is being developed to disrupt the country’s nuclear program.

Company News:

Apple Reportedly Acquires Social Analytics Firm Topsy – Apple has acquired social analytics firm Topsy for more than $200 million, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. One of Twitter’s many certified partners, Topsy analyzes the micro-blogging service and provides insights on tweets, users, and events, then resells it to customers.

Microsoft launches new TV ad to promote Windows 8.1 apps – Microsoft has launched a new TV ad designed to promote many of the third party apps that can be downloaded for Windows 8.1 and confirms a $25 gift card offer when buying a new Windows 8.1 touch PC.

Amazon pilots cash-on-delivery service in India – E-commerce giant is reportedly testing the service with India Post to cater to customers who don’t want to make upfront payments, and in a country where 80 percent of online transactions are completed with cash-on-delivery.

Yahoo snags mobile-video startup Ptch – Another day, another acquisition for Yahoo. This time it’s Ptch, a mobile video app that was funded by DreamWorks Animation. The iPhone app lets users create montage videos out of clips and photos. The service will shut down on January 2 so the startup’s team can join Yahoo, Ptch announced Tuesday on its Web site. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Spotify: We’ve paid out $1 billion in royalties since launch – Spotify introduces a Web site aimed at explaining its operations to artists and other music professionals.

Microsoft raises $8 billion in combined dollars-euros bond offering – Microsoft has filed a report stating that it has raised a total of $8 billion thanks to a new bond offering in both dollars and euros which the company will use for “general corporate purposes”.

Games and Entertainment:

Assassin’s Creed series comes to Android with “Pirates” – The line between console gaming and mobile gaming continues to blur, as the much-adored Assassin’s Creed series comes to the Android platform this Thursday, December 5.

Xbox One in stock again but supplies likely short-lived – Microsoft’s Xbox One has begun quietly showing up in stock at retailers, though availability of the strongly-selling console is expected to remain relatively constrained in the run up to the holidays. Stock of the Xbox One is available at Amazon at time of writing, priced at $499.99, following Microsoft’s promise to free up more of the consoles made earlier today.

Blizzard extends Black Friday game sale to January – Blizzard decided to get in on the action again this year by cutting the price on some of its games last week as part of a Black Friday Sale promotion. The games on offer included digital download copies of World of Warcraft and StarCraft II. That sale was only meant to last until Monday, but the Battle.net post has been updated to announce that the promotion is being extended to January. You’ll now be able to enjoy the cheaper pricing until 11:59pm PST on January 1st.

10 Digital Comics You Should Read Right Now – Comic books, the sequential art medium that birthed many of pop culture’s greatest heroes, have gone digital. These are ten titles that deserve a home in your smartphone or tablet.Digital comic are here to stay, naysayers, and they aren’t going away.

Full price Square Enix 3DS game Bravely Default has $1.50 microtransactions – Bravely Default isn’t set to be released in the US until February next year, but gamers across Europe will get it on December 6. With that in mind, Nintendo issued a press release this morning promoting the game, as well as detailing how the microtransaction system will work.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year isn’t selfie, it’s science – Rating its 10 most-searched-for words, the online dictionary shows that people are interested in more than just buzz-worthy semantics.

Are Budget Android Tablets Training Wheels for Non-PC Users? – Low-end Android tablets could introduce emerging markets to the computing experience, but what will users upgrade to from there? The answer is critical for the PC industry.

No ‘lovemaking’, no ‘geek’: Living in the world of ‘Bandroid’ – Your Android KitKat refuses to accept some words exist — at least in polite company. Indeed, there are 1,400 unacceptable words. Including “lactation.” (WTF?)

Launch code for US nukes was 00000000 for 20 years – Remember all those cold war movies where nuclear missile crews are frantically dialing in the secret codes sent by the White House to launch nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles? Well, for two decades, all the Minuteman nuclear missiles in the US used the same eight-digit numeric passcode: 00000000.

New product shuts car engines off with a radio pulse – The product, named the RF Safe-stop, works by sending an RF pulse to a car at up to 50 meters (164 feet) away. The pulse “confuses” the car’s electronic systems, which the BBC said made the “dashboard warning lights and dial [behave] erratically.” The engine then stalls, and the car comes to a stop. How safely and quickly the vehicle would stop depends on the vehicle, and this technique would not work on older vehicles.

Tour the battleship USS Missouri – From World War II, through Korea, the Cold War, and Desert Storm, the Missouri served her country for 48 years. Take a photo tour of this incredible battleship.

A tour of the Pacific Aviation Museum (pictures) – Located on Ford Island, the Pacific Aviation Museum houses some of the most famous aircraft from WWII, Korea, the Cold War, and more. Check out this full tour.

Something to think about:

To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.”

–      Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

Cain and Abel 4.9.48 – 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. Cain & Abel has been developed in the hope that it will be useful for network administrators, teachers, security consultants/professionals, forensic staff, security software vendors, professional penetration tester and everyone else that plans to use it for ethical reasons.

Tweak-SSD 1.0.25 – Optimize and tweak your Windows 7 or Windows 8 for a better performance of your SSD drive. Includes several tweaks that will optimize your SSD drive, making it even faster and reducing read and write access. Intuitive tweaking wizard guiding you from one tweak to the other, suggesting the best settings.

Comodo BackUp – Comodo BackUp is the straightforward and powerful utility that allows users to quickly and easily create backup copies of critical data. Free of charge, its features include different types of backups such as disk and partitions backup, files and directories backup, entire registry backup, custom registry keys backup, user settings backup, mail accounts backup, messenger clients backup and system state backup. Additional features are available such as e-mail reporting, extensive report logs, advanced rule-based filtering, flexible scheduling of backups, space-saving archiving capabilities, password encryption with multiple encryption algorithms, history list for backups and more. Comodo BackUp is integrated into windows explorer so you can backup files and folders with a simple click.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

CATO Institute: Decoding the Summer of Snowden – As the “Summer of Snowden” stretches into autumn, Americans trying to make sense of the continuing deluge of new revelations may feel as inundated as the analysts who complain that trying to sort through the vast quantities of data flowing through that machine is like “drinking from a firehose.” Fortunately, you don’t need the NSA’s supercomputers to keep track of all the government spying. Here are the most significant programs we’ve learned about to date. Together, they reveal a surveillance machine vastly more powerful than anything Hoover could have dreamed of.

Congressional leaders call for Communications Act makeover – Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) say it’s time to bring the 1996 law, which governs the nation’s communications networks, into the 21st century.

IT Security in the Snowden Era – The Edward Snowden revelations have rocked governments, global businesses, and the technology world. When we look back a decade from now, we expect this to be the biggest story of 2013 and the one with lasting impact. Here is our perspective on the still-unfolding implications along with IT security and risk management best practices that technology leaders can put to good use.

Snowden picked up hacking skills in India – NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden spent a week in New Delhi, training in advanced ethical hacking, where he earned his certification as an EC-Council Certified Security Analyst.

Huawei’s South Korea contract concerns US – Top US officials have expressed concern at reports that Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is set to build a new broadband network in South Korea that Washington sees as a possible spying risk.

India to seek US help in monitoring Web chats – Government says it plans to ask the U.S. how it can decrypt data sent over messaging services such as WhatsApp and Viber, and complain about the lack of cooperation from U.S. service providers in aiding its cybercrime investigations.

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