Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 6, 2013

Essential free software;  Five free Firefox add-ons for the security conscious user;  Android apps that play nice with your PC;  Every Customer Support Number You’ll Ever Need;  Mobile – CDMA vs. GSM: What’s the Difference?;  Microsoft acts on NSA’s ‘persistent threat’;  8 tips to protect your business’ wireless network;  Apple – preferred US consumer PC choice;  Will this robot make America safer?;  Find out if your password has been stolen;  Mobile apps put your security and privacy at risk.

Essential free software you can’t afford to miss – Free doesn’t have to mean cheesy, especially when it comes to freeware. A developer’s passion project can become something you can’t imagine being without, and the fact that you don’t have to lay out any cash to acquire it is a major bonus. Some developers accept donations to further development, so consider giving what you can if you find value in their efforts. Here are some of our favorite freebies.

Five free Firefox add-ons for the security conscious user – For those that do not want to wade through the tide of installable features, I have brought together five of my favorite security add-ons for Firefox. With these five added features, you should find that Firefox will meet your highest security standards (within reason of course).

Study finds most mobile apps put your security and privacy at risk – The average smartphone user has 26 apps installed. If recent research conducted by HP is any indication, approximately, well, all of them, come with privacy or security concerns of some sort. The HP study focused purely on custom business apps, but there’s no reason to believe the issue doesn’t extend to commercial apps you find in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Many apps have access to data or permission to perform functions they shouldn’t.

9 ways to stay below your data cap on Android and iOS – Telecoms want you to buy bigger data allowances, and they have the leverage to do so: We’re using more data than ever these days thanks to apps, social media, Web services, and our obsessive email-checking. So what’s a hard-working, socially connected, tech-savvy person such as yourself to do with a limited data plan? Follow these tips to cut back on your data habit, track and monitor your usage, and extend your data plan—so you never have to pay overage charges again.

Encryption, lawyers, and openness: Microsoft acts on NSA’s ‘persistent threat’ – “We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution.”

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

13 highly productive Android apps that play nice with your PC – Getting things done on disparate devices doesn’t mean you have to abandon a cohesive workflow. These 13 Android apps sync, link, connect, or just plain play nice with your computer in ways that make it easier to stay productive no matter where you are—and with minimal hassle. Check ’em out.

Nexus 5 Android 4.4.1 update released to boost camera – Google has released Android 4.4.1 KitKat, addressing the primary source of Nexus 5 complaints: the camera. Teased earlier today, the new software takes on some of the common complaints about photography on the Nexus 5, including the speed at which it focuses, and the shutter lag which has led many to complain that they miss more photos than they take.

Quick and simple time-saving tips for the Nexus 7 – One good thing about the tablet wars is that there can be more than one winner. Even for a longtime iPad user such as myself, there’s a lot to like about the Nexus 7. You’ll like the device even more after you’ve tweaked a few of its default settings. Here are a handful of customizations guaranteed to make your use of the Nexus 7 more enjoyable.

Google’s Voice Search On Android And iOS Can Now Answer Questions In German, French And Japanese – Google has long had a thing for voice search, but until now, the only language it fully supported was English. Even though voice search itself is available for a few dozen languages, the only language Google could respond in with spoken answers was always English. That’s changing today. Google just announced that its Search app for iOS and Android can now speak out answers in French, German and Japanese.

How to Talk to a Live Person: Every Customer Support Number You’ll Ever Need – Customer Support is theoretically there to help, but it too can be a disappointingly unpleasant experience. To help you avoid all that frustration, we’ve compiled a list of customer support phone numbers and tips for navigating to an actual person. From retailers to wireless carriers to cable providers to manufacturers, calling these numbers and following a few easy steps will get a real person on the line before you know it.

Seene creates 3D photos on your iPhone – A free app in the App Store called Seene will help you create 3D photo scenes, using your iPhone’s camera. The process is simple, requiring nothing more than a subject that stays still and a steady hand.

Make the Internet Explorer app run in two windows – A secret hidden in the Internet Explorer app that will allow you to have two tabs open on the screen at one time and position them side-by-side.

Mobile – CDMA vs. GSM: What’s the Difference? – If you’re shopping for a mobile phone, you’re in for a lot of acronyms. Here’s what you need to know about two basic, yet important, terms.

Data Portability Win! Google Now Lets You Export All Your Gmail & Calendar Data Via Google Takeout – Google has been good about offering a number data portability options through its Google Takeout service, which has previously allowed users to download data for over a dozen products, including Contacts, Drive, Voice, and more. But today, the company is adding two of its flagship properties to Google Takeout, with the new ability to export your all your Gmail and Google Calendar data.

Six essential tips when making videos for mobile devices – People no longer have to rely on PCs or laptops to watch instructional videos. So, enterprises are now creating their own videos for mobile devices. With that in mind, here are six useful tips that will help you create top-quality videos for your customers.

Microsoft Launches Bing Maps Preview With High-Res 3D Imagery – As Microsoft promised during its BUILD developer conference earlier this year, the company today launched a first preview of its new maps app for Windows 8.1. The highlight of this release is the addition of 3D imagery, something Microsoft tried a few years ago with Bing Maps online but then shelved after it moved away from its proprietary Silverlight technology. The new app is now available in the Windows Store.


Five critical fixes on deck for Patch Tuesday – Microsoft is planning to release at least five critical fixes in next week’s Patch Tuesday monthly security update. Among the products which will be impacted by the critical updates are Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows XP. The Internet Explorer updates will address flaws in versions 6 through 11 of the web browser. Windows Server 2012, 2010, 2008, and 2003 will also see updates, as will the Windows 8 RT tablet build. Also addressed in the update will be critical flaws for Office 2013, 2010, 2007, and 2003. Microsoft warned that if exploited, the vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to remotely execute code without user notification.

How to find out if your password has been stolen – There are many public databases of breached accounts, the largest breach being that of, but no way to search across all of them. Until now.

Twitter’s new ads program tells advertisers your browsing habits – The global rollout of the ads program allows any marketer to target users who have already expressed interest in their brands outside Twitter with relevant promoted tweets.

Hack on JPMorgan website exposes data for 465,000 card holders – JPMorgan Chase has warned 465,000 holders of prepaid cash cards that their personal information may have been obtained by hackers who breached the bank’s network security in July, according to a report published Thursday. In September, bank officials discovered an attack on Web servers used by its site and reported it to law enforcement authorities. In the months since, bank officials have investigated exactly which accounts were involved and what pieces of information were exposed.

Microsoft disrupts ZeroAccess botnet in collaboration with FBI and Europol – Microsoft has revealed that it has disrupted a “rampant botnet” known as ‘ZeroAccess’ – which has so far infected almost two million PCs – in collaboration with the FBI, Europol and industry partners.

Android Flashlight App Shared User Data Without Permission – The Federal Trade Commission has settled with the makers of the Android Flashlight app, which distributed users’ personal information to third parties without their permission. The Brightest Flashlight Free app turns the user’s phone into a flashlight. But it was sending a user’s location and unique device identifier to third parties, including ad networks.

8 tips to protect your business’ wireless network – Common router features may be putting your data at risk. Follow this guide to close the security holes.

Company News:

Apple bests Dell for first time as preferred US consumer PC choice – Apple is now the preferred choice of US consumers shopping for desktop PCs, according to a nationwide survey of 2,500 “US broadband households” conducted by the research firm Parks Associates. “Apple topped the list of intended brands for desktop purchases for the first time this year,” said Parks Associates’ director of consumer analytics John Barrett in a statement. “In 2011 and 2012, Dell was the top desktop brand, but Apple has displaced it, making Apple now the most popular brand across even more key [consumer electronics] categories.”

Report: Spotify plans to launch a free, ad-supported mobile music option – According to The Wall Street Journal, Spotify could launch free, ad-supported mobile music as early as next week, together with limited a la carte selections.

Broadcom Goes After Automotive Market With Android Syncing Platform – The new Bluetooth-based software stack syncs Android devices with automotive computing systems providing entertainment, navigation, and other in-vehicle apps

Core wars redux: Intel to ship 15-core Ivytown chip – Intel confirmed Thursday that it will release a 15-core server chip code-named Ivytown, which will be based on the Ivy Bridge architecture. Intel until now had topped off at 12 cores with the Xeon E5 v2 chips that shipped in the third quarter of this year. The 15-core chip is destined for high-end servers. It will likely go into four- to eight-socket servers, which typically handle high-end computing for databases and enterprise resource planning systems.

UK politicians call on shoppers to boycott ‘tax-avoiding’ Amazon – Eight British Members of Parliament have called on UK shoppers to boycott Amazon, calling the company’s tax avoidance policies “morally wrong” and a threat to other businesses and jobs.

Games and Entertainment:

Mega Dead Pixel review: Free-falling game a smashing good time – In this iOS game, you play a dead pixel who must “paint” obstacles while falling down the screen. Sounds simple, but Mega Dead Pixel is a challenging game with cool retro graphics and sound.

Riot tells pro League of Legends players they can’t stream competing games – League of Legends developer Riot has unleashed something of a bombshell on the pro-gaming community of streamers. The company operates a competitive e-sports league, the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), that’s about to start its fourth season. Teams participating in the competition have to agree to a contract, and according to portions of the contract leaked to onGamers, those contracts will ban LCS participants from streaming a range of games that compete with League of Legends.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 full-length trailer unveiled – Today the Amazing Spider-Man 2 appears in the first full-length trailer to be shown to the public. What you’ve got here is a glimpse at the full collection of villains our friendly neighborhood web-slinger is set to face off against right alongside teasers for the next generation. This trailer shows so much, you might just want to skip it.

Fatal PS4 robbery attempt highlights dangers of selling online – A man was shot and killed in San Francisco this week after he tried to sell his PlayStation 4 on Craigslist, highlighting the potential dangers of selling goods to strangers online. The victim, 22-year-old Ikenna Uwakah, posted the PS4 for sale on Craigslist and on Instagram. It caught the eye of his alleged killer, 21-year-old Ronnie Collins, who police say lured Uwakah to the park in the city’s Bayview district to make the transaction.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Postscript: Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 – “He was the last of the twentieth century’s national liberators. He became a global symbol of righteousness and reconciliation. He led his beloved, tormented country from the howling darkness of apartheid to the promised land of democracy with shrewdness, courage, and visionary determination. It was a long and difficult trip, both for Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, and for South Africa”

5 Hacking Myths You Probably Believe (Thanks to Movies) – In movies, the word “hacker” is interchangeable with “wizard.” Screenwriters can have a character mutter something about “nodes” or “encryption,” slap the shit out of a keyboard, and acquire godlike powers over the natural world. They figure the average person doesn’t really understand computers, so anyone who can hack one might as well be a mythical creature. Well, this is one of those times when the Hollywood version of a job is somehow even more hilariously off the mark than usual. My name is Caleb Brinkman. I’m a white hat hacker, which means I only hurt websites to make them stronger. Read on and you’ll learn why everything movies and NCIS taught you about hacking is ridiculously wrong …

Self-replicating USB thumbdrives are faster than the internet in the developing world – What is the fastest way to distribute free software? If you said ‘the internet’ you are mistaken, but it’s an understandable error. The internet is only a speedy route if you’ve got a good connection. For much of the world, that’s out of reach. A computer scientist has responded to this by developing a neat self-replicating USB thumbdrive. Here’s the key: plug a second drive into the computer and execute the clone command from the included shortcut, and the software is copied to the other drive, sans any personal information.

BlackBerry turned down Bieber because ‘he’s not going to last – According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the fine Canadian singer offered himself as a brand ambassador to his fellow Canadians for a mere $200,000 and 20 phones. He was rejected.

China Bans Banks From Using Bitcoin – China has banned its banks from using bitcoins as currency in an effort to prevent money laundering and maintain financial stability. The People’s Bank of China and four other government agencies today issued a notice warning the country’s residents of the dangers of using bitcoin.

BofA deems Bitcoin the next big thing – In a new report, the bank says that the virtual currency could ultimately be worth $1,300 per coin and become a “major means of payment for e-commerce.”

Will this robot make America safer? – A Silicon Valley startup has developed a surveillance robot that it says can cut crime by half, but its appearance on streets would be sure to prompt more debate about technology and privacy. The K5 is packed with gadgets: There are several cameras to provide an all-around view day and night, a laser imaging sensor that maps an area in 3D, a thermal imaging system, and facial and license plate recognition systems. An air particle sensor is planned for the future.

Honda builds a ridiculous yet functional airbag for smartphones – The Japanese automaker has posted a video of the Smartphone Case N, which can sense a drop and deploy airbags to cushion a phone’s landing. They may, however, have taken things a little bit too far. But hey, it works. Check out the Honda video from around the 3:16 mark, and you’ll see the Case N deploy its airbags and keep a phone safe following a drop of around five feet.

Something to think about:

if you can’t get what you love

you learn to love the things you’ve got

if you can’t be what you want

you learn to be the things you’re not

if you can’t get what you need

you learn to need the things that stop you dreaming

all the things that stop you dreaming”

–       PassengerThings That Stop You Dreaming

Thanks John.    Smile

Today’s Free Downloads:

Emsisoft Emergency Kit – A collection of programs that can be used without a software installation to scan and clean infected computers for malware – Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner; Emsisoft Commandline Scanner; Emsisoft HiJackFree; Emsisoft BlitzBlank.

Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.

Aomei Partition Assistant 5.5 – Partition Assistant is a comprehensive disk partition solution, which includes a Partition Manager and Extend Partition Wizard for Windows 7/XP/2000/Vista and Server 2008/2003/2000. Besides, the magic partition utility can support all hard disks recognized by Windows such as IDE, SATA, SCSI, Hardware RAID, USB external disks, Fire wire disks etc.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Saving the Net from the surveillance state: Glenn Greenwald speaks up (Q&A) – The man to whom Edward Snowden entrusted his NSA documents isn’t content just to save the Bill of Rights and reinvent journalism. He also wants to stop the Internet from becoming history’s most dangerous spy tool.

Google Pushes White House Petition Demanding The Government Secure A Warrant To Read Your Email – Google is promoting a White House petition calling for reform to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), amending it to require a warrant for the government to read the email of its citizens. In a Google+ post – natch – Google asked its followers if they felt their online missives deserve the same protection as their physical mail. Sign the petition, the company continued, to “tell the government to get a warrant” before reading your email. That the petition exists is not surprising. To see Google publicly promoting it is refreshing. Since Google’s post went live, around 6,000 more people have signed the petition, which is now over halfway to the needed 100,000 signatures.

The NSA scandal has damaged U.S. credibility online – Many U.S. policy makers don’t recognize the level of distrust created by recent revelations about U.S. National Security Agency surveillance, and that lack of trust will drive other countries away from U.S. technology firms, said Andrew McLaughlin, former White House deputy CTO. The NSA surveillance has led to an intense “level of anger and the degree of betrayal” in many countries that U.S. policy makers don’t seem to fully appreciate, he said. And many countries have begun to explore other options beyond U.S. technology companies because of the surveillance revelations, he added. There’s now a perception outside the U.S. that the country’s technology companies “are willing instruments of violation of civil rights and civil liberties,” McLaughlin said. Many countries will move to use domestic technology companies and require citizen data to stay within their borders, he said. “If you’re an American company that sells cloud services, I think you’ve probably sold your last contract to a foreign government,” he said.

Microsoft confirms plans to upgrade encryption for online services – Last week, the Washington Post reported that Microsoft was looking into beefing up the encryption for its online services, in order to prevent government agencies like the NSA from using its data illegally. This week, Microsoft confirmed that it will be upgrading the encryption for services such as, Office 365, SkyDrive and Windows Azure. In a blog post, Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith said that they don’t have any direct evidence that the NSA or other government groups have targeted their online services, but added the company doesn’t want to take any chances. He listed just what Microsoft plans to do to protect its data:

Microsoft likens NSA snooping to hacking by the Chinese government – Microsoft has come out with the harshest criticism by any tech company of National Security Agency (NSA) snooping, and likened it to the kinds of hacking carried out by top teams of hackers backed by the Chinese government. Is the criticism real, or an attempt to divert attention from Microsoft’s past cooperation with intelligence agencies?



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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 6, 2013

  1. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Re: “Passenger”. He’d keep you going in quotes for a long time. You could use the whole of “Hate” with a little judicious censoring.

    Hope others are picking up on “All The Little Lights”.

    Kind regards

    Kind regards