Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 12, 2013

Unlock Android with Your Face ;  AOMEI Partition Assistant Pro for free; AT&T wants to buy your privacy;  Spotify Free Music Listening;  The 10 Best Tablets; 10 Great Tech Gifts Under $50;  How to digitize holiday photos and videos;  Top 10 smartphones of 2013;  YouTube 2013’s top 10 viral videos;  Top 10 business apps Windows Phone 8;  How does Google Search really work?

Get AOMEI Partition Assistant Pro for free – From now until Monday, December 16, you can get AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional Edition 5.5 (Win) for free. Normally $36, this handy utility includes a “Windows to go” feature for creating a bootable Windows flash drive.

TIME: Person of the Year Runner-Up: Edward Snowden – He pulled off the year’s most spectacular heist. Exiled from his country, the 30-year-old computer whiz has become the doomsayer of the information age.

How Twitter tracks the websites you visit, and how to stop it – Last Thursday Twitter introduced promoted tweets (ads) targeted according to the websites you’ve visited. It seemed like a good time to explain how Twitter is doing it, how they’ve used a different technique to track the websites you visit for some time now, and how to turn it all off if you want to.

10 Great Tech Gifts Under $50 – Here at PCMag, we’ve helped you out by picking 10 useful and engaging gifts that will delight the photographers, musicians, jetsetters, and even the savviest techies in your life. Practical accessories like smartphone camera lenses, media-streaming sticks, and washable keyboards make the latest splurge extra special, while more specialty gifts are indulgences in themselves.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The 10 Best Tablets – Whether you’re in the market for an iPad, an Android, or a Windows slate, this list of 10 top-rated tablets is a good place to start.

AT&T wants to buy your privacy with its gigabit internet service – AT&T is offering to trade permission to track internet browsing in return for a cut on DSL subscription fees, infuriating privacy advocates in the process. The offer, part of AT&T’s gigabit fiber broadband rollout, offers potential subscribers “AT&T Internet Preferences” as part of their U-Verse with GigaPower service, which allows the company to dig into individual browsing information – such as searches and webpages visited – so that it can tailor adverts and offers accordingly.

30-Second Tech Trick: How to Unlock Android with Your Face – Also, remember: Everybody dies.

The top 10 business apps you need for Windows Phone 8 – Here’s 10 Windows Phone 8 apps that business users must have, whether it’s securing messages and logins to finding the right location for a meeting.

Microsoft Builds New Tool To Help Gmail Users Move To – Microsoft would greatly appreciate it if you could knock off that Gmailing business and move to its email service. I refuse to, and so do more people than Microsoft prefers, so the company today released a new tool that will make it easier for Gmail users to jump ship.

Top 10 smartphones of 2013: There’s One that’s best – We have seen some fantastic smartphones in 2013 and one phone remained clearly at the top of my list. Another one recently knocked it out of my pocket, but it still remains in my collection.

How to digitize holiday photos and videos – You could outsource that work to a service, but you may already have most of the gear to do it yourself—and what you don’t have is pretty easy and affordable to get. Here’s everything you need to convert your old media into modern digital files and then prepare them for sharing with your friends and family.

Facebook Puts Its Web Feed In Motion With Auto-Playing Videos – The News Feed is about to get a lot more lively. Just days after pushing its auto-play feature for videos to all mobile users, today we spotted auto-playing videos on, and the company confirms to me “we’re continuing a wider rollout of in-line video on web”. Once this rollout is complete, the stage will be set for the introduction of more flashy video ads. (For those of us who run with multiple open tabs, the recent emphasis on “auto-playing videos” continues to be a disaster – multiple videos playing at one time!)

New York attorney general demands answers on smartphone security decision – In a letter to carriers asking why they oppose installation of a “kill switch” on handsets, Eric Schneiderman alluded to possible collusion.

Data Breach Insurance: Will It Help Or Hurt Your Privacy? – Yes, insurance could pay fines and damages to monetarily take care of Adobe or JPMorgan Chase; these giands won’t lose cash. But personal data for all affected individuals is still out there. Worse, having insurance might create a sense of complacency about actually hardening security.

Spotify Expands Free Music Listening – Spotify is expanding its mobile presence with free access to its music catalogue on smartphones and tablets. On tablets, all users (not just Premium subscribers) will find the same experience they encounter on the desktop. Smartphone users will be a tad more restricted, but can still access all their Spotify playlists.

Microsoft accounts add useful, overdue tools like recovery codes and login history – It’s similar to what Google introduced in Gmail back in 2010. The goal is to make sure that you can quickly spot suspicious account activity — and easily report it when you do. Whether the account access was initiated on the web, in a Windows Phone app, or at the Windows login screen, Microsoft’s recent Activity page will list it.

Trouble At Yahoo: Partial Webmail Outage Continues, While Surprise Small Business Website Shutdowns Anger Customers – Normally a report of a web services outage goes like this: web service goes down, reporter writes post, hits publish, web service comes right back up. But that doesn’t appear to be the case for Yahoo Mail, which has been down for some users for well over 24 hours, and in some cases nearly two days, if the reports on Twitter and those rolling into our tips inbox are to be believed.

Hey Linux newbie: If you’ve never had a taste, try perfect Petra – The recently released Mint 16, nicknamed Petra, might be the perfect Linux desktop for newcomers. At its core is Ubuntu 13.10, but on top of this are desktops Mate and Cinnamon, the latter being the Mint project’s homegrown user interface. Ubuntu gives a stable foundations on which to build, allowing the project to focus more on its desktops and less on the underpinnings. The result is a pair of desktops both worthy of consideration but with Cinnamon far more interesting as its hits version 2.0

Android Device Manager app is one Google hopes you’ll never have to use – This week Google has released the app version of their device location service, this working with your machine’s opt-in ability to be tracked (by you). What users will be doing with the Android Device Manager app is locating their full collection of Android devices, should they ever need to, using their device’s GPS and Wi-fi signal locators.

Apple TV Boosts App Lineup With ABC, Crackle, Bloomberg – Apple TV is making a play for cable-cutters everywhere by adding a handful of new channels, including Bloomberg TV, Crackle, and Watch ABC.

First Dell Chromebook Lands in January – Dell is jumping on the Chromebook bandwagon and will release its own version of Google’s Internet-based laptop next month, the Dell Chromebook 11.


Online shoppers: before you click that ad, read this – Online advertising is becoming more sophisticated. Advertising agencies now specialise in online markets and new analytic tools which can track and profile users to provide highly targeted advertisements with increased revenues. While these online ads are a convenient way for commercial companies to reach customers, and for internet users to stay in touch with online stores and items they’re interested in, they do bring new risks. (recommended by Mal C.)

Largest Brazilian bank exposes customer data – Brazil’s largest bank had to deal with a huge security breach of its mobile banking app as users had access to information about other customers at the institution. Customers at Banco do Brasil (BB) using mobile banking through the bank’s iOS and Android apps could get access to private data such as balance and statements from other, random account holders. The damage was not greater only because transfers and payments require a password.

64-Bit Version of Zeus Banking Trojan In The Wild – Researchers at Kaspersky Lab have spotted a 64-bit version of the Zeus banking Trojan. The malware adds a new wrinkle to its capabilities in that it communicates stolen credentials and other data over Tor.

Disqus scrambles after leak links offensive comments with email addresses – The company’s API leaked information that allowed a tabloid to link offensive forum comments to email addresses.

Why does an Android flashlight app need GPS permission? – Granting a flashlight app permission to use the device’s GPS has nothing to do with how the app operates, but everything to do with the app being free. Find out about the real cost.

Company News:

Cisco loses fight to reverse Microsoft’s purchase of Skype in European court – A decision from the Luxembourg-based General Court has ended a court battle from Cisco, which saw the company trying to reverse the 2011 acquisition of Skype by Microsoft.

Rumor: Microsoft mulling free Windows RT and Windows Phone versions to OEMs – Microsoft is rumored to be thinking about a plan to offer Windows RT and Windows Phone for free to OEM for use in tablets and smartphones in order to combat Google’s Android OS.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 beta arrives with MariaDB as its default database – Red Hat’s newest enterprise Linux takes one giant step forward to its release and shifts from MySQL to MariaDB for its database management system needs.

Snapchat snags $50M in latest funding round – A new form filed with the SEC confirms that the app for disappearing picture and video messages has secured $50 million in new funding.

Astute Networks Closes 2013 as Year of Record Achievement – Astute Networks Inc., the leading provider of Networked Flash appliances, today announced that 2013 marked a year of record achievement for the company. Demand for its ViSX all-flash storage, application performance acceleration solution, reached an all-time high, particularly across key vertical markets including healthcare, education, manufacturing, federal government and military; while the company also enjoyed significant strategic channel partner growth.

Private equity firm to buy LightSquared – The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the private equity firm Centerbridge Partners has a tentative deal to buy wireless broadband provider LightSquared out of bankruptcy in a deal worth $3.3 billion.

Games and Entertainment:

The Elder Scrolls Online launches on PC April 4, consoles in June – We’ve been hearing about The Elder Scrolls Online since May 2012 when Bethesda first announced it existed as a project. Since then we’ve had a steady flow of information about the game including a 20 minute clip of gameplay and, most recently, footage of the character creation process. Now we have a confirmed release date. Along with the release dates announcement, Bethesda released the latest gameplay video, which you can watch below.

Xbox One Fox Now app hits Xbox LIVE – Xbox One owners will be able to access shows like Sleepy Hollow, New Girl, and Almost Human as of today, as the Fox Now app lands on the next-gen console. The service will give Xbox One users access to new episodes of shows the day after they air on broadcast TV, Fox says, with select subscribers getting full back-catalog access as well.

First Valve Steam Machine prototypes shipping to 300 beta testers Friday – Valve has announced that it has selected the 300 beta testers that will be getting prototype Steam Machines, with those units shipping to the lucky recipients on Friday.

Microsoft: Xbox One reaches 2 million worldwide sales – When Sony announced eight days ago that the PlayStation 4 had sold 2.1 million units worldwide, Microsoft declined to update the public on its own sales numbers (past the million day one Xbox One sales announced the week before). The company broke that silence today, announcing that the Xbox One has sold more than 2 million units worldwide since launching in 13 countries on November 22.

StarCraft 2 professional is first series gamer to be granted U.S. pro athlete visa – If you’re a StarCraft 2 fan, it is likely you’ve heard of gamer Kim Dong Hwan, also known as Violet, who holds the title of professional gamer and now the distinct honor of being the first StarCraft player granted a traditional pro athlete visa in the United States. The news is said to have brought Hwan to tears, and is the second ever instance of gamers being recognized as athletes by the US.

Angry Birds GO! released with whole new way to race – The developers at Rovio have revealed their next big play for the mobile gaming universe with a customizable racing game by the name of Angry Birds GO! This game works with some of the same premises as he previous games they’ve released – customizability from Bad Piggies, catapulting birds from Angry Birds – and twists the whole universe into a carting adventure.

Off Topic (Sort of):

YouTube reveals 2013’s top 10 viral videos, times have changed – Over the years, YouTube’s trending videos have become more slick and professional — this year’s trending videos include “The Fox,” “YOLO,” and “The Epic Split featuring Van Damme.”

Homeless man learns to code, launches app – After receiving coding lessons from a helpful Samaritan, a homeless man in New York launches Trees for Cars, a new carpooling app with a focus on saving the environment.

Bill Gates swallowing a bicycle is the key to a novel password system – CMU researchers have tested the idea of visualising Person-Action-Object (PAO) stories as an easy way of remembering passwords that are hard to crack.

How does Google Search really work? – Find out the innards of how Google Search functions and how your business appears in the results.

Gabe Newell: I learned more in three months at Microsoft than entire time at Harvard – Valve co-founder and former Microsoft employee Gabe Newell recently gave an interview saying he learned more in three months at Microsoft than he did his entire time pursuing a degree at Harvard.

Will your marriage be a happy one? Only your subconscious will tell – Newlyweds tend to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to their outlook about marriage. But with up to half of all marriages in the US ending in divorce, most freshly minted couples would probably be interested to know how their partnership will end up. A new study in Science offers some insight: a newlywed’s subconscious feelings can tell a lot about how happy their marriage will be over the long term.

Groupon’s brilliant response to Amazon’s drones: Catapults – Instead of frightening you with futuristic, intrusive flying machines, Groupon decides there’s a better way to give you faster deliveries.

Something to think about:

The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.”

–     Herbert Agar

Today’s Free Downloads:

ISO Workshop 4.5 – Features: Extract files and folders from disc image. Copy disc to disc image (including Audio CD). Convert disc image to ISO or BIN format. Burn ISO or CUE/BIN image to disc. Supports common formats (ISO, CUE, BIN, NRG, MDF, CDI etc.) Supports CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, DVD+R DL, BD-R/RE. Supports verification of written files. Free for personal and commercial use

WinMend Folder Hidden 1.5.0 – WinMend Folder Hidden is a file / folder hiding tool. While ensuring the absolute system safety, this application can quickly hide files and folders on local partitions and/or on removable devices. The hidden files / folders will be safely hidden whether the drive is accessed in another operating system on the same computer or reinstalled on another computer. You can set a password for this application. Hidden data can be displayed and unhidden only when the user enters the valid password. The data is completely invisible to other programs or on other operating systems.

Angry Birds Go! – Welcome to downhill racing on Piggy Island! Feel the rush as you fling those freewheeling birds and piggies down the track at breakneck speed – with plenty of twists and turns in a thrilling race to the finish line! But beware! Look out for hazardous roads, mischievous opponents riding your tail and special powers to put the race leader behind the pack. Plus, go from soapbox car to supercar by upgrading your ride! Ready…Set…Angry Birds Go!

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Australia: Fed police trial new net spying technology – Controversial new technology capable of collecting and storing emails and other information sent via computer in real time will be rolled out by the australian federal police next year. The agency plans to trial “deep packet inspection” (DPI) technology in February before a full rollout in April. The AFP insists it is to be used as “a system tool” within the organisation. “This technology is common among commercial and government IT systems throughout the world,” a spokesman told AAP on Tuesday. It will not be connected to any external telecommunications or other IT networks and is not associated with data retention in Australian telecommunications networks. The US-based Centre for Democracy and Technology describes the technology as “really no different than postal employees opening envelopes and reading letters inside”.

AT&T accused of violating privacy law with sale of phone records to CIA – Consumer advocates have asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to declare that AT&T violated a privacy rule in the Communications Act by selling phone records to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A report last month said that “AT&T has turned over international calling records to the CIA. The telecom charges the CIA more than $10 million per year in exchange for access to metadata about calls by suspected terrorists overseas.” In response, a group of consumer advocacy groups led by Public Knowledge filed a petition today with the FCC.

Will NSA cut it out if Congress passes no-bulk-spying bill? “Depends” – The bill’s sponsors have made it unequivocal that they want to shut down the bulk data collection programs. In Rep. James Sensenbrenner’s (R-WI) breakdown of the bill, the first point is in boldface: “End bulk data collection of Americans’ communication records.” But a top DOJ lawyer who testified at today’s hearing said he sees some ambiguity in the language of the bill, and the government probably won’t shut down any programs—at least not without a court fight.

Mass phone record gathering necessary: NSA chief – The mass collection of telephone data is necessary to monitor communications between terrorist suspects, the head of a US spy agency has said.

Australian Greens succeed in bid to establish surveillance inquiry – After a handful of previous attempts, the Greens party has finally gained an inquiry into the Telecommunications Act that will look at surveillance conducted in Australia.

NZ judge: Kim Dotcom is likely still being spied upon – Dotcom heard a conversation with his attorney played back over a phone call – A New Zealand court judge on Wednesday affirmed that it is likely that Kim Dotcom and his family have been and continue to be under surveillance. However, Judge N.R. Dawson stopped short of granting Dotcom’s request to compel American authorities to provide an affidavit “stating in unequivocal terms” whether the US has conducted surveillance against him since the January 20, 2012 raid on his property. The judge added that Dotcom needs to provide further evidence that surveillance is definitely being carried out by the US “before this Application could succeed.”

Reacting to NSA, FreeBSD Bars Intel, Via Chips – FreeBSD, the open-source operating system, announced that it will no longer support Intel’s RdRand and Via Technology’s Padlock on-chip random number generators (RNGs) moving forward in new versions of the UNIX-like operating system.

Snowden revelations spook Hightail’s cloud-computing customers – Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of the collaboration and data-sharing service, says customers’ data-security worries slow their purchasing. And Hightail has had to change its own business.

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