Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 11, 2013

Thought your Android phone was locked? THINK AGAIN;  The biggest secrets on people’s smartphones;  Top 5 fuel-saving myths;  The Top Antivirus Tools We’ve Tested;  Spotflux free VPN;  Instagram tips for the holidays;  HDMI vs. DisplayPort vs. DVI vs. VGA;  Windows XP holdouts – you must upgrade now;  Apple’s ’12 Days of Gifts’;  Sync with MediaFire Beta;  Startling security statistics;  The best Skyrim mod of all time;  SUPERAntiSpyware Free.

The Top Antivirus Tools We’ve Tested – Which of the current antivirus suites is the one for you? We dig deep to sort the best from the rest.

Windows XP holdouts: 3 reasons you must upgrade now. Yes, now – You really, really need to dump Windows XP. No, really. Windows XP was great, and many users still love the operating system, but…it’s more than a decade old. At the rate technology evolves, that makes Windows XP a near-relic. Although it may still appear to work fine, the mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t really apply to Windows XP. It’s broken in many ways, and when Microsoft officially stops supporting it next April, it really will be broken.

Doctor On Demand Launches To Bring A $40 (Virtual) House Call To Healthcare – Adam Jackson and former Stanford physician and White House fellow Dr. Pat Basu want to help modernize healthcare by bringing the house call back — mobile-style. To do that, today, they’re officially launching Doctor On Demand, a service that aims to connect consumers to a licensed U.S. physician via app an on iPhone, Android or tablet — from anywhere.

Have yourself a filtered little Christmas: Instagram tips for the holidays – You can’t just slap any old filter on your shots of feasts and decorations. Some, like Kelvin and Toaster, are completely inappropriate. They’re great for outdoor summer scenes, but don’t fit the vibe of a cozy Christmas—too much orange. Other images need more than one effect to get up to snuff—we’re talking double filters and contrast/blur effects. Check out our Instagram holiday photo filter tips and wait for the likes to roll in.

How do I gain administrative access to a second-hand computer? – It’s common not to get all of the information (such as the administrator password) with a used computer. There are a couple of approaches to taking ownership, but we start by understanding the risks.

Cain and Abel Free – Allows easy recovery of various kind of passwords by sniffing the network, cracking encrypted passwords and more.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Meet Revolv, The Missing Link To The Modern Smart Home – This $299 device connects all these smart devices, effectively making a unified smart home. This might be the quintessential first world problem, but as smart devices grow in popularity, there will increase a need for a device to make everything run together. And the Revolv does just that. It’s the missing link in today’s Internet of Things.

Spotflux free VPN – Spotflux is a free encrypted VPN client that routes your Internet traffic through a series of secure servers that mask your actual IP and make it virtually impossible to trace the connection back to your computer. Unlike some VPN clients, Spotflux is easy enough for anyone to use.

The biggest secrets on people’s smartphones? (Clue: not sexts) – Research into what things people most want to keep to themselves on their phones shows that there are truths more embarrassing than naked truths.

Viber Out Targets Skype With Low-Cost Calls – The low-cost calling feature Viber Out launched globally today as part of the Viber 4.1 rollout for Android and Ios.

CallSnap lets callers know you’re not ignoring them – Too busy to take a call? A new Android app uses audio and images to show important business connections know you’re not ignoring them.

Slo-Gram, a simple way to share slo-mo videos on Instagram – This free app makes it easy to take slo-mo videos directly from your iPhone 5S to Instagram, no funky workaround required.

The first smartring has an LED screen, tells time, and accepts calls – Forget smartwatches—smartrings are the new thing now. An Indiegogo campaign for a product called the “Smarty Ring” has hit its funding goal. Smarty Ring is a 13mm-wide stainless steel ring with an LED screen, Bluetooth 4.0, and an accompanying smartphone app. The ring pairs with a smartphone and acts as a remote control and notification receiver.

HDMI vs. DisplayPort vs. DVI vs. VGA: Which connection to choose? – If you’re looking to connect a computer to a TV or monitor, your choices are HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, and VGA. What’s the best connection?

Microsoft’s new Photosynth tools aim at a new artistic medium – Microsoft’s new Photosynth tool introduces two new visual formats that fuse information and artistic presentation.

Apple’s ’12 Days of Gifts’ Kicks Off Dec. 26 – Apple today released a new app that will serve up 12 days of free gifts, beginning Dec. 26. The 12 Days of Gifts app – available for iOS devices running iOS 7 and above – will allow users to download one free gift per day from Dec. 26 to Jan. 6. “Each day’s gift will only be available for 24 hours, so download the free app to make sure you don’t miss out,” Apple said in the app description.

Microsoft offers free gifts with online exchange – Each day from Monday, December 9, until Friday, December 20, Microsoft’s gift exchange page will offer you a chance to win a surprise holiday present. After the gift pops up, Microsoft plays virtual Monty Hall by giving you the option to exchange it for something else. The grand prize of an online gift code worth $500 will end up in the stockings of 12 lucky winners.

Fgallery: Free software for fast, always centered photo galleries – Marco Fioretti takes a look at fgallery, a free software tool that allows you to build static photo albums.

Cloud Storage Service SugarSync Abandons Freemium For A Paid Account Model – SugarSync, a gladiator in the long, hard battle that is hosted cloud storage, has decided to go mercenary. The company announced today that they will offer a “paid-only” service model, doing away with their free storage tiers. Current customers can still access their files and will be offered considerable discounts on the service – up to 75% in some cases.

Not to worry: Sync with MediaFire Beta – Access all your media, anywhere you go. Sync seamlessly across devices, and easily share any file or folder from your desktop.

Windows ‘Threshold’ Leaks Point to Return of Start Menu – Microsoft’s follow-up to Windows 8, the operating system revamp code named Threshold, could reintroduce the Start menu ditched in the original Windows 8 release.

Twitter adds private DM photos and new swipeable mobile apps – Twitter has added support for private image sharing via direct message, in an update to the 140-character messaging service that also sees new, swipeable timelines in the mobile apps. The update, which is released for both the iOS and Android versions of the Twitter app, also brings direct messages further out into the open, adding a new tab in the navigation bar for the private communications.

10 New Android and iOS Apps Get Chromecast Support – Mountain View has announced 10 new apps on iOS and Android have gained support for Chromecast streaming today. They are a mix of audio and video apps that pull content from various online sources, and also a few that can stream your personal files.


Thought your Android phone was locked? THINK AGAIN – Android has taken another step to cement its place behind Java in the world of repeatedly-vulnerable software, with German group Curesec discovering that an attacker can get past users’ PINs to unlock the phone. In fact, the Curesec post states, the bug – present in Android 4.0 to 4.3 but not 4.4 – exposes any locking technique: PINs, passwords, gestures or facial recognition.

Isurvive personal safety app launches “party safe” campaign for Christmas – The acclaimed new iSurvive app is available on iPhone and Android for free download from 14th – 28th December 2013. The “Party Safe” Campaign is intended to help raise awareness throughout the UK of personal safety during the festive season. Versatile and super-fast, iSurvive is heralded as a breakthrough in adult and child safety.

HP Discover: Startling security statistics – We learned some interesting, albeit startling, security facts at HP Discover today, including the fact that most security breaches go undetected for nearly a year. What other tidbits did we learn?

Popular holiday-themed phishing attacks – The holidays are a busy time for everyone… especially for hackers trying to phish your employees. Phishing is most effective when it exploits human emotions—fear, greed, anxiousness, curiosity, compassion, getting a good deal—and the holidays tend to bring these emotions out more than other times of the year. This gives adversaries a bevy of relevant topics to use to build phishing campaigns.

Poker ace’s vanishing hotel laptop WAS infected by card-shark – F-Secure – A laptop apparently stolen from a top-flight poker pro’s hotel room and mysteriously returned while he played in a card tournament was infected by spyware. That’s according to security firm F-Secure, which today said it had analyzed the computer, owned by ace player Jens Kyllönen. The Java-written malware on the machine could allow a attacker, perhaps a card-shark, to remotely view screenshots and log activity on the PC.

300 victims report fake support calls to security org: Internet Storm Center collects info on scam for research – The Internet Storm Center (ISC), an arm of the SANS Technology Institute, has started collecting reports of fake support calls in an attempt to figure out how prevalent the scam is among computer owners.

Russian-speaking group offers bulletproof hosting in Syria, Lebanon – Those supplying services to cybercriminals are looking for places where they won’t be shut down, a security company says.

Company News:

ManageEngine DCIM Solution Integrates IT, Facilities ManagementManageEngine, the real-time IT management company, today announced that it has combined facilities and IT management in its integrated IT management software, IT360. Available immediately, the latest version of IT360 reinforces its value as a data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solution by enabling real-time management of IT and facilities infrastructure components from a single console. ManageEngine has also fortified IT360 with workflow automation, network change and configuration management, and a 3-D rack builder.

Cisco Vet joins Big Switch to lead engineering, accelerating SDN for next gen fabrics – Big Switch Networks, the Bare Metal SDN company, today announced the appointment of Jeffrey Wang as Vice President of Engineering. Wang will lead engineering for the company’s pipeline of SDN Fabric solutions, including its Unified Physical + Virtual (P+V) Cloud Switching Fabric currently in beta and its award-winning SDN Monitoring Fabric, both recently showcased at the Open Networking Users Group (ONUG) conference.

Ubuntu Touch OS scores smartphone partner, reveals Shuttleworth – The days of Canonical’s mobile operating system, dubbed Ubuntu Touch, are rapidly upon us. In October, an image of Ubuntu Touch was released along with the 13.10 version of the desktop OS. Fast-forward a couple more months, and Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth has revealed the company has penned an agreement with its first — and yet unspecified — smartphone partner.

eXo Extends Leadership in Enterprise Social Collaboration with Cloud and Mobile Solutions – eXo, the Enterprise Social Platform company, today announced the availability of eXo Cloud Premium, a breakthrough new enterprise service that combines the centralized framework of a portal with the functionality of social networks to deliver on the promise of a connected and collaborative workplace. Building on the unmatched capabilities of the on-premise eXo Platform solution, eXo Cloud Premium and the new eXo mobile apps empower organizations to easily create their own social workspace in the cloud from any connected device, and tap into the power of work-driven social collaboration from anywhere at any time.

Voxbone lowers barrier for OTT Telecom Providers to enter mobile markets in Europe – Voxbone is the first direct-inward-dialing (DID) service provider to offer mobile numbers that were previously only available from mobile operators in Europe and the first in the world to offer mobile numbers from multiple countries that support both voice and SMS. As such, Voxbone becomes the first pan-European “Mobile Virtual Network Enabler” (MVNE).

Games and Entertainment:

Fragged, fragged and thrice fragged! 20 years of id Software’s Doom – It was uploaded to the University of Washington’s servers at midnight, 10 December 1993 in the form of a .zip file containing the game and the first set of levels. It didn’t take long to generate a massive buzz – and because id was offering extra levels for a $25 shareware fee, massive profits for the developers, among them John Romero, Mike Abrash, Dave Taylor, Adrian Carmack, Kevin Cloud and, crucially, engine developer extraordinary John Carmack.

Microsoft’s Xbox One gets first post-launch software update today – Microsoft will release the first post-launch firmware update for the Xbox One later today, which will fix some bugs and offer improvements for their new game console.

Game of Thrones episodic game coming in 2014 from Telltale Games – An exact launch date is unknown with Telltale only saying the Game of Thrones game will come in 2014. The game will be available for game consoles, PC, Mac, and mobile devices. The only details on the game we have so far is a teaser trailer for Telltale. With the massive success of The Walking Dead as an episodic game, we can expect more titles of this sort from Telltale and other game publishers.

The best Skyrim mod of all time – The mod — dubbed the Really Useful Dragons mod after the similarly named song from the Thomverse — also replaces the dragon’s spells with what the creator states are more appropriate versions of those spells. If you can make it through Skyrim’s torturously slow opening sequence, you’ll be rewarded with a horrific treat. The introductory scene where the dragon chases you through the fort is made exponentially better now that Thomas is your pursuer — cold, dead train-eyes staring into your back, deafening honk rattling around your head.

Fox announces Family Guy mobile game coming in 2014 – Good news for Family Guy fans, and it’s safe to say there’s a lot of you. Fox announced that it’s currently working on a Family Guy mobile game in partnership with TinyCo to be released in 2014.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Top 5 fuel-saving myths – There are plenty of myths about car tech and modern driving, maybe none more than in the area of fuel economy.

Failsafe algorithms could make quadrocopters almost impossible to crash – The failsafe algorithm developed by Mark Mueller is capable of coping with a partial or full failure of up to three rotors on the aircraft. The software is smart enough to compensate for loss of power from the damaged rotors with the remaining good ones. This isn’t going to keep the drone flying normally — it’s going to need to land. However, it won’t crash, which is good if you’ve got expensive material (or an Amazon package) attached to it.

The Mother of All Demos: The 1968 presentation that sparked a tech revolution – On December 9, 1968, Dr. Douglas Engelbart addressed a packed theater at the Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, demonstrating a new computing platform that heralded advancements from the computer mouse to videoconferencing. Forty-five years later, we’re still reaping the benefits of his vision.

‘Google Barge’ plans in hot water, project said to be ‘on hiatus’ – Google’s plans for a floating showroom in San Francisco Bay appear to be on hold, with construction on the barge having been put “on hiatus” shortly after an inspection by the US Coast Guard.

“Revenge porn” operator arrested, charged with ID theft – Websites that post nude pictures of adults without their permission, commonly known as “revenge porn” sites, have recently drawn public scorn and a few lawsuits. Now, the owner of one revenge porn website is facing prison. Kevin Bollaert, a 27-year-old San Diego resident, was arrested today for running a website called and has been charged with 31 counts of identity theft, extortion, and conspiracy. The suspect is being held in jail on $50,000 bail.

Oz couple get jiggy in pharmacy in ‘banned’ condom ad – NSFW Oz prophylactic outfit Four Seasons Condoms is enjoying a runaway viral marketing success with a “banned” advert for its Naked Condoms deemed unfit for Downunder TV. The firm teamed up with comedian Gary Eck to produce a series of “spots” featuring the escapades of “Raquel and Tyson”, and intended to “create a campaign aimed at normalising condom usage with Australian youth and young adults”. The pair’s first outing features them going at it hammer and tongs in a pharmacy, helpfully attended by a member of staff.

Something to think about:

24 Touching photos that will grab you by the Heart..And Never let go. Tissues Required.

Today’s Free Downloads:

Advanced Onion Router – Onion Routing is a distributed overlay network designed to anonymize TCP-based applications like web browsing, secure shell, and instant messaging. Clients choose a path through the network and build a circuit, in which each node (or “onion router” or “OR”) in the path knows its predecessor and successor, but no other nodes in the circuit. Traffic flows down the circuit in fixed-size cells, which are unwrapped by a symmetric key at each node (like the layers of an onion) and relayed downstream.

EverNote – EverNote for Windows is an intuitive note management application that offers you a single place for the organization, easy input and quick retrieval of all types of notes and clippings. With EverNote, you can conveniently capture and quickly find typed or handwritten memos; excerpts from Web pages, documents and emails; passwords, phone messages, and to do’s; brainstorms, sketches, camera phone snapshots; and more.

SUPERAntiSpyware Free – Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats. Light on System Resources and won’t slow down your computer like many other anti-spyware products. Won’t conflict with your existing anti-spyware or anti-virus solution! Repair broken Internet Connections, Desktops, Registry Editing and more with our unique Repair System!

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA leaks blamed for Cisco’s falling sales overseas (updated) – Cisco executives recently announced declines in product orders in China, and have placed at least part of the blame on the National Security Agency. “In our Q1 earnings call of November 13th, we stated that product orders in China declined 18% in Q1 FY14, whereas in Q4 FY13, we referenced that our business in China had declined 6%,” a Cisco spokesperson told Ars. “By comparison, China bookings were up 8% in Q3 FY13. So, yes, there is a short-term trend of declining business in China, which we have acknowledged.” Cisco noted that overall revenue is growing. “From a topline perspective, total revenues grew 2% $12.1B for the first quarter. Cisco revenues also grew at 6% in the preceding quarter, and grew 5% in the quarter ending April 2013,” the company said.

NSA said to use Google cookies to track suspects – Same bits of code used by advertisers to track consumer behavior is used to help locate targets for government hacking and surveillance, the Washington Post reports.

STATE OF DECEPTION: Why won’t the President rein in the intelligence community? – On March 12, 2013, James R. Clapper appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to discuss the threats facing America. Clapper, who is seventy-two, is a retired Air Force general and Barack Obama’s director of National Intelligence, in charge of overseeing the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and fourteen other U.S. spy agencies. Clapper is bald, with a gray goatee and rimless spectacles, and his affect is intimidatingly bureaucratic.

Big tech firms will protect your privacy…if it helps the bottom line – Lately, large tech companies have been up in arms against all the NSA spying but only out of fiscal necessity.

Snowden document reveals extent of NSA/Canadian collaboration – America’s northern neighbour provides the United States with access to areas that the NSA cannot touch.

French government CA attempts to explain certificate spoofing – The certificate authority which issued unauthorized certificates for Google domains issues a lame explanation which only makes the incident more suspicious.



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

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 11, 2013

  1. delenn13

    Hi Bill,

    Is it my imagination or am I seeing an increase of software reviewers actually encouraging the installing of TOOLBARS? I am not just picking on PC Mag. It’s just the most recent one I have run across.

    Toolbar and Other Bonuses – Avira Free AntiVirus (2014) Review & Rating |

    “Toolbar and Other Bonuses
    The antivirus’s installer also offers a toolbar that combines an search box with a variety of security features. Just to make sure you don’t miss out, when the browser asks for confirmation of your search-provider change, Avira pops up pointers showing just where to click. Note that it also changes your homepage to Avira Search.

    An icon on the toolbar reflects the current page’s status in Avira’s URL Cloud. If the icon turns red, you can click it to find out why. In testing, I found that it detected a few phishing websites, but not enough to be considered an antiphishing component. My Avira contacts confirmed that full-scale phishing protection is reserved for the company’s paid products.

    The toolbar scans each page you visit for ad networks and other links that may track your Internet usage with third-party cookies. A button on the toolbar displays the number of blocked items on the current page; click the button to see a list. This feature can block dozens and dozens of ad networks, social media triggers, and other trackers—you can go through the list and tweak just which ones it blocks, if you wish. AVG’s toolbar offers a similar feature.

    From the toolbar, you can delete browser history or launch private browsing (tasks easily accomplished outside the toolbar), link to popular webmail sites, and even launch a Facebook widget.

    WTF? TOOLBAR AND OTHER BONUSES??????… search box… to popular webmail sites, and even launch a Facebook widget.

    I, at the moment, just have no words for this monstrosity. It floors me.

    Granted the reviewer doesn’t recommend Avira because of “the No support” but….I am just speechless…

    • Hey Delenn13,

      Just follow the money. I won’t mention the websites that are controlled by multimedia conglomerates but, more than a few of them artificially inflate app recommendations in order to satisfy a major advertisers needs. Your example is a case in point. And, as you point out – it’s now as common as blossoms in May. 🙂

      The real loser here (as you well know), is the inexperienced user who happily adds junk apps in the anticipation that computing life will be somehow, a little easier. Fat chance, huh? 🙂