Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 5, 2013

Top 10 Everything of 2013;  Is That Facebook Friend a Scammer;  15 awesome techy gifts for kids;  Why You Want to Be Tracked Online;  Get a 24-inch LED monitor for $99.99 shipped;  Cyber Monday sting seizes 706 counterfeit sites;  Buy a refurbished iPad from Apple;  Facebook dominates mobile apps;  Gift Guide: For The Tech-Savvy Music Lover;  Festive season security myth;  Amazon’s Drone Delivery Fiasco.

Top 10 Everything of 2013 – In 54 wide-ranging lists, TIME surveys the highs and lows, the good and the bad of the past 12 months.

Cal App for Android Exits Beta, Manages Your Calendar and Looks Good Doing It – The new Cal app from the folks at Any.do reached Android a few weeks ago as a semi-closed beta, but today is the official reveal. This new calendar app is available to everyone and it’s 100% free. Cal does all of the same things that other apps do, but it might do them a little more elegantly. It also ties in with the fabulous Any.do to-do manager.

15 awesome techy gifts for kids – From smart robots they can program themselves, to humble building blocks that teach physics and engineering, these gifts will delight tech-savvy children and the adults who love them.

iPad app makes kids the stars of interactive ‘movie’ – With the Winston Show, kids can converse directly with an animated character and thanks to speech recognition, instantly see a “movie” that incorporates the conversation.

Lost in translation? Check out these mobile apps – Available on both Android and Apple iOS, the new TextGrabber + Translator supports 40 world languages. But it’s not the only game in town.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Flipagram helps create videos using your photos – Currently the top free app in the App Store, Flipagram makes it easy to create fun videos using nothing more than your own photos.

Get a 24-inch LED monitor for $99.99 shipped – While supplies last, Newegg has the Hanns-G HE245DPB 24-inch LCD monitor for $99.99 shipped when you apply coupon code EMCYTZT4967 at checkout. (As with most Newegg promos, you must be a registered, signed-in newsletter subscriber in order to use that code.) That’s the lowest out-the-door price I’ve ever seen for a 24-inch display. I don’t recall seeing a comparable deal even on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. And this is new, not refurbished, with no rebate hassles.

MediaFire Desktop – Access all your media, anywhere you go. Sync seamlessly across devices, and easily share any file or folder from your desktop.

Perpetu Lets You Decide What Happens To Your Online Accounts After You Die – One day each of us will pass on and be no more. We will cease to be, expired stiff and bereft of life, our metabolic processes part of history. Most of us don’t like to think about joining the choir invisible or, for that matter, what will happen to our online profiles once we become ex-people.

Why you should buy a refurbished iPad from Apple – When it comes to buying fixed-up older iPads, you have a bevy of options. But really, the Apple refurbished store should be your first and only choice.

Capture the web with Chrome screenshot tools – Add screenshots to your training materials with any of these four screenshot tools for Chrome.

Gift Guide: For The Tech-Savvy Music Lover And Audio Enthusiast – The holidays are a time when music fills the air, thanks to carollers and tinned music played through mall speakers. Both of those things sound horrible compared to the items in this gift guide, which are all chosen to delight the auditory sense, and vetted against a number of comparable items that don’t quite match their musical mastery.

Get eight free holiday songs from Apple – I’m almost exclusively a Johnny Mathis and Bing Crosby guy when it comes to holiday music, but if your tastes are more eclectic than mine, you may enjoy Apple’s holiday gift of a free, eight-song playlist.

11 new gadgets for fantastic photos – Picture taking, whether you use a smartphone or digital camera, doesn’t have to be boring. Here are some cameras and peripherals that can help you create truly marvelous photos.

Phonecom Mobile Office – Download the Mobile Office app to manage your personal and business communications on one phone! Assign separate phone numbers for each role or project on your mobile device, set custom caller-ID numbers to keep your iPhone number private when placing business related calls and keep your personal and business profiles separate. The Mobile Office app for iPhone offers features that let you customize and simplify your communications so you can take care of business from anywhere.

New USB connector standard won’t matter which way you plug it – USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced that the development for a new and improved USB connection specification called the “Type-C” connector has begun and is expected to be finalized by mid-2014.

Bluetooth 4.1 prepares headsets and more to connect to the ‘Net – The latest Bluetooth update will require just a software update to transform the galaxy of Bluetooth devices into more efficient data collection and communication devices.

‘Phablets’ are eating into the tablet market, IDC says – Large smartphones with 5-in. or larger displays — often called phablets — are eating into sales of smaller tablets with screens in the 7-in. Range. The phablet cannibalization trend is so significant that IDC lowered its long-term tablet forecast. The research firm slightly lowered its previous 2013 forecast from 227.4 million tablet shipments worldwide to 221.3 million.

Turning a Windows Phone into a hearing aid scored one Imagine Cup team $100,000 – The product works with any existing set of headphones or even Bluetooth headsets. Further, the app can filter out ambient background noise to help increase the signal to further improve the hearing capabilities of application. The service also offers an online hearing center where you can take further assessments, find a personal audiologist and gain access to expert advice.

Radio amateurs fret over G.fast interference – Their worry, as outlined by UK interference-watcher forum Interference.org.uk, is that aside from notches for FM radio and Digital Audio Broadcast frequencies, the new fibre-to-the-X standard won’t be required to stay away from Ham Radio frequencies. According to the document on the Interference.org.uk site, the full sampling rate of a top-rate G.fast system would, at 423 MHz, create a sizeable interference footprint.

Facebook dominates mobile apps, survey says – Almost half of mobile phone users polled by CIRP singled out Facebook as one of their three most used apps.

Security:

Credit card fraud comes of age with advances in point-of-sale botnets – Underscoring the growing sophistication of Internet crime, researchers have documented one of the first known botnets to target point-of-sale (PoS) terminals used by stores and restaurants to process customers’ credit and debit card payments. The botnet remained active at the time of writing and had compromised more than 20,000 payment cards since August.

Dutch banks set common rules for online banking. But have they gone far enough? – Dutch banks have agreed on a common framework of rules for their online banking customers, which they will require people to follow if they are to qualify for refunds of money stolen through phishing, carding or other forms of online fraud.

Festive season security myth: “If there are no links in an email, it can’t be a phish.” – The festive season is a good time to make sure your friends and family haven’t fallen in with falsehoods when it comes to computer security.

Adobe and Java vulnerabilities leave Windows open for exploitation – A recent report by the AV-Test Institute found that exploits in Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Java account for 66 percent of Windows systems affected by malware. In a 10-year-plus study, AV-Test uncovered that one exploit for Adobe Reader had nearly 37,000 recorded variants that exploited user machines with high levels of precision. Users with outdated software or versions known to be susceptible stood virtually no chance of avoiding malware damage without some form of protective software.

Is That Facebook Friend a Scammer or Someone You Actually Know? – Fake profiles abound on Facebook. Cyber-scammers grab photos from other profiles and create fake identities, and then spam people with friend requests. Ars Technica reports on a new twist, where scammers create a fake profile with the name of a real friend and send a request. So even if users are careful about accepting requests from strangers, they may not think twice about accepting these friend requests because the name is familiar. Depending on how many other people the scammer had already duped, the user may even see a lot of mutual friends.

Why You Want to Be Tracked Online – Tracking by online marketers can be annoying and even feel like an invasion of your privacy. But before you decide to go incognito, there are a few good reasons you may want to be tracked online.

Cyber Monday sting seizes 706 counterfeit sites – An international strike force has seized 706 counterfeit-peddling sites in the fourth annual Cyber Monday crackdown, dubbed Project Cyber Monday IV. Meanwhile, authorities are seizing goods such as cheesy sneakers and are targeting $175,000 held in PayPal accounts by the sites.

Company News:

Microsoft Closes At $38.94, Its Highest Point In 13.38 Years – Microsoft’s stock closed at $38.94 this afternoon, a level that the company hasn’t seen since 2000. As Dow Jones noted today, the last day that Microsoft managed to close above $38.49 was July 18, 2000, which is when it wrapped up the day’s trading at $39.25.

Yahoo Closes Above $38 For The First Time Since Early 2006 – Yahoo shares closed above the $38 mark today, cresting that barrier for the first time since early 2006 on the strength of a nearly 4 percent gain on the day. Yahoo has since endured a long winter of CEO changes and lackluster direction. But the company’s shares have rallied strongly under the leadership of CEO Marissa Mayer, who took on the role in July 2012.

In India, Apple is facing the classic dilemma of pricing vs. brand image – In price-conscious India, the world’s second-largest smartphone market, Apple is trying hard to safeguard its premium brand positioning while attempting to sell its iPhone devices using ingenious offers. In the past few quarters, Apple has launched a series of promotions that mark a departure from its previous one-strategy-fits-all-markets model.

Lenovo looking at acquisitions to expand enterprise unit – Once heavily reliant on the Chinese market, Lenovo is now looking to make acquisitions as it tries to expand its growing enterprise business to other countries.

Apple, China Mobile said to have finally struck iPhone deal – New partners expected to unveil the handset on the world’s largest wireless carrier around December 18, sources tell the Wall Street Journal.

Games and Entertainment:

13 great PC games with a retro feel – Many of today’s game developers grew up in the 8-bit era and are now using their talents to breathe new life into this classic style. They’re introducing fun mechanics and innovative play styles that rival the graphically elite, big-budget games. We kick off our homage to the pixelated past with one of the best, most violent games of the past year.

Crescent Moon Games Releases Action Platformer Clash of Puppets on Android – Crescent Moon Games has a way of churning out entertaining titles time and time again. Despite the unusual name of its most recent Android venture, Clash of Puppets seems like another winner, though it might have been better suited for a Halloween release. This is a 3D action-platformer crawling with B-movie creatures and one confused fellow with a trucker hat and a handsome mustache.

Nintendo 2DS Pokémon X and Y bundles package colorful consoles – Nintendo has revealed two new 2DS bundles aiming to push Pokémon for the holidays, building on the multi-million selling Pokémon X and Pokémon Y as the company tries to claw gaming attention away from Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The two deals, each priced at $149.99, will respectively pair with the X or Y version of the latest Pokémon game with a red or blue 2DS handheld.

Valve joins Linux Foundation as part of its SteamOS push – Valve’s upcoming SteamOS is based on the open source Linux kernel but modified by Valve to, in theory, become a better gaming and multimedia operating system. So it should come as no surprise that Valve has now joined the Linux Foundation, which is dedicated to expanding the use of the OS in all areas of technology.

Gamers Log 50M Hours on Xbox One in 11 Days – Less than two weeks after the Xbox One hit store shelves, gamers have already spent more than 50 million hours on their new consoles, Microsoft revealed on Tuesday.

Here Are 2013′s Most Popular Tunes, According To Our Informal Survey Of Music Startups – As we head into the last leg of 2013, you may find yourself misty-eyed, staring out the window and listening a mashup of this year’s biggest musical hits. It was a good year, and not just because One Direction decided to make a fragrance. So to celebrate, I turned to a few music services to see what their users were listening to most this year.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Mankind to machine: 14 computing devices you’ll be wearing in the future – If you thought Google Glass was the “future” of wearable tech, think again. From e-tattoos to 3D printed clothes, ZDNet explores what we could be wearing in the very near future.

Dvorak: Amazon’s Drone Delivery Fiasco – Publicity stunts like this are why Amazon doesn’t advertise. Media fawning on Jeff Bezos’s stupid ideas is all the company needs to stay in the public eye.

Charged with theft, man arrested for plugging car into school’s outlet – A man in an Atlanta suburb was confronted by a police officer for plugging his electric car into an outside outlet at a school. Ten days later, he was arrested at home and charged with theft for taking about 5 cents worth of electricity “without consent.” Kaveh Kamooneh plugged an extension cable from his Nissan Leaf into a 110-volt external outlet at Chamblee Middle School while his son was practicing tennis.

SmartCharge Wants You Not To Notice Power Outages – At Least Until The Milk Starts To Stink – When the power goes out, it’s terrible. Nothing works, and for some reason it’s impossible to remember that: I always find myself doing things like “well if I can’t watch TV I can at least read this book, I’ll just turn on the light…” and then nada of course. With SmartCharge, a new Kickstarter project, that might actually work, since it’s an LED bulb with a built-in power reserve that remains on uninterrupted when the rest of your power goes off.

Kentucky police chief to be paid in Bitcoin – As the virtual currency rockets toward a trading value of $1,200, Tony Vaughn of tiny Kentucky town Vicco is trading in his bank account for a Bitcoin wallet.

U.K. Social Media Users Get Legal Advice From On High On Avoiding Contempt Of Court – The U.K. government’s chief legal advisor, Attorney General Dominic Grieve, whose remit includes trying to ensure fair trials can take place, has decided the time has come to provide free legal advice (well, he calls it “advisories”) to Twitterers and Facebookers to help educate them on the responsibilities of using a “tool of mass communication”.

NASA releases Saturn ‘hexagon’ images like never seen before – Spanning 20,000 miles and whipping up winds of 200 miles per hour, this massive six-sided storm clustered around the planet’s north pole is a sight to behold.

Something to think about:

I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

–     Thomas Jefferson

Today’s Free Downloads:

Why Can’t I Connect? 1.6.1 – “Why Can’t I Connect” makes it easier to resolve TCP/IP connection errors. Use it to diagnose connections to common server types and create generic clients and / or servers. A source tar, a 32 bit rpm, a 32 bit deb, and a 32 bit Windows install exe are available. The 32 bit Windows executable runs fine in 64 bit Windows systems. 64 bit Linux systems, however, should compile from source.

AppRemover 3.1.8.1 – AppRemover fully supports the thorough uninstallation of hundreds of antivirus and antispyware applications. The following support chart is updated with each new release. The chart lists two different types of supported applications. One set has been verified by OPSWAT Labs testing. The other set lists applications that have been reported as supported by the hundreds of thousands of users that have previously downloaded AppRemover. In addition, AppRemover may be able to successfully remove other security applications on your system. However, these are not guaranteed.

Free Sound Recorder 9.7.1 – Free Sound Recorder is a perfect audio recorder to record your own voice, music or any other sound by working directly with your sound card. It supports the record input/source from a microphone, streaming audio from the Internet, external input devices (e.g. CDs, LP, music cassettes, phone line etc.) as well as other applications like Winamp, Media Player, etc. With built-in advanced audio record engine, the recorder produces high quality recordings.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA Reportedly Tracking Cell Phone Location Data – According to leaked documents from whistleblower and Russian residency enthusiast, Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency is tracking people’s whereabouts en masse. By collecting the location data from billions of cell phone records, the National Security Agency can map the relationships of suspects, reports The Washington Post. The Post even has a delightfully artistic explainer video to ease our transition to an Orwellian state with a pleasant voice-over and soothing graphics.

Australian political games could see full TPPA treaty revealed: Secretive treaty with nasty IP provisions a step closer to scrutiny – The TPPA, with signatories to include Australia, the USA, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, has been both secret and controversial, with the public only seeing treaty text when someone chooses to leak a copy. The most recent leak demonstrated that the treaty could include broad criminal penalties for copyright infringement, extensions of copyright terms, strict provisions against circumventing technological protection measures on copyright material, and patent appeasements to the pharmaceutical industry. (Note: This is NOT just an Australian issue.)

Microsoft vows to boost Internet encryption, transparency – Likening government Internet surveillance to malware, Microsoft’s chief general counsel says the company is taking steps to protect the privacy of online communications.

NSA spy scandal prompts China push to favor local tech vendors: The NSA spying scandal has put a strain Cisco and Qualcomm businesses in China – While China’s demand for electronics continues to soar, the tech services market may be shrinking for U.S. enterprise vendors. Security concerns over U.S. secret surveillance are giving the Chinese government and local companies more reason to trust domestic vendors, according to industry experts. Starting this year, the nation’s government tenders have required IT suppliers to source more products from local Chinese firms, said an executive at a U.S.-based storage supplier that sells to China. In some cases, the tenders have required 50 percent or more of the equipment to come from domestic brands, said the executive, who requested anonymity.

NSA-proof Euro cloud gang: Cool idea, bro… until it turns into MARKET-EATING beast – Some German politicians and lobbyists have been pushing for some of Europe’s technology companies to group together and create separate IT infrastructure from US-based or US-controlled systems. These calls have come in light of concerns about US intelligence agencies’ surveillance of data held by US technology companies.

Despite U.S. fears of China spying and hacking, U.K. cuddles up to Huawei – British PM David Cameron was forced to defend the move, despite U.S. senators’ belief that the Chinese networking giant is spying on the rest of the world.

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