Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 13, 2013

28 Android security apps tested; Twitter immediately reverses course;  The best apps for rooted Android phones;  7 Tips for better selfshots;  Giving the gift of digital downloads;  Watch YouTube videos on your TV;  The first 6 things you need to do with your new Android tablet;  New Instagram Direct – private image-sharing;  Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics for free;  Walmart to Sell iPhone 5c for $27;    Google “Players Choice” – top Android apps from 2013;  How to partition a hard drive;  UK wants you to tweet the color of your vomit.

28 Android security apps tested – Applying some of the more than 1.5 million new Android malware samples found this year, independent lab AV-Test compares Android solutions. They also look at usability, impact on system performance and other security features.

The best apps for rooted Android phones – Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system in the world in part because it’s powerful and highly configurable. This opens up an entirely new world of apps and tools, but you know what they say — with great power, comes great responsibility. Just be aware you can break things messing around with root access. With that in mind, here are the best root apps available on Android.

The first 6 things you need to do with your new Android tablet – Here’s a look at the first six things you should do with your tablet right after purchase.

Office Depot offering 16GB Google Nexus 7 tablet for $179.99 through December 21 – The retailer also has the 32GB version on sale for $229.99.

New Instagram Direct delivers private image-sharing – The photo-sharing service introduces the ability to send photos and videos to specific users.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to watch YouTube videos on your TV – Even a “dumb” TV can stream flash-mob dances and piano-playing cats. You just need the right source.

Walmart to Sell iPhone 5c for $27, Boost PS4 Inventory – With the Walmart Christmas Countdown Savings Event, Walmart will discount select items close to Cyber Monday prices, including the iPhone 5c for $27.00

Giving the gift of digital downloads – Whether it’s a last-minute gift or something you’ve been planning to give for a while, online stores are a great source for digital presents during the holidays — if you know where to look.

Twitter immediately reverses course on changes to “block” behavior – Critics said the new “mute” system made harassment easier for determined trolls.

Google “Players Choice” – top Android apps from 2013 – Google has revealed the top Android software of the year, throwing the judgement over to Android phone and tablet users themselves for 2013′s results. Around a million users voted in Google’s six categories and made suggestions as to which four apps should take the remaining spaces on the leaderboard, with favorites like Switfkey and Knights & Dragons getting namechecked.

7 Tips for better selfshots – Not even the president can resist pointing the camera at himself every now and then. At least you can do a better job of it.

UK wants you to tweet the color of your vomit In order to track norovirus, UK authorities would like people to get as graphic as possible with their unhealthy tweets.

FCC moves toward in-flight mobile use; Transportation may ban voice calls – While the FCC is moving forward with a plan to let airlines allow the use of mobile phones on flights, the Transportation Secretary wonders if in-flight voice calls are “fair to consumers.”

How Gmail’s image tweak is a boon to marketers, stalkers, and debt collectors – The widespread takeaway from today’s announcement that Google will start caching all remotely-hosted images sent to Gmail users was that the move will hinder e-mail marketers and other nosy senders by preventing them from seeing recipients’ personal information. But less reported was this: the move also promises marketers—and, indeed, other types of shady senders—a major silver lining.

How to partition a hard drive – Every hard drive in use has at least one partition. You can shrink that partition and create new ones out of the extra space. You’ll find this useful if you want to install more than one operating system, or if you want to truly separate programs and data.

YouTube expands live streaming to all users: conditions apply – Thus far, live streaming has been of limited availability on YouTube, and has seen its fair share of success, not the least of which was for some big-name live streams. Now all users have gained this opportunity, and we could see real-time broadcasts become a regular thing.

Get your control freak on with stick-anywhere home sensors – Sense Mother and Motion Cookies are a flexible network of sensors you can put on anything from a toothbrush to a backpack. Feel better?

US carriers agree to unlock customers’ phones after pressure from FCC – AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular have “voluntarily” committed to unlocking customers’ cell phones once their contracts have been paid off. The wireless carriers will notify customers when their devices are eligible to be unlocked, “or automatically unlock devices remotely, for free,” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said today.

PC World: Our favorite PC components of 2013 – If it can no longer keep up with the latest games, swap out its video card. If it takes too long to encode media, upgrade its CPU. To take advantage of a new I/O technology, such as USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 2.0, replace its motherboard. There are dozens of ways to update and upgrade. Here are our favorite PC components for 2013, along with a few accessories for good measure.

So you want to be a coder! These tools can get you there – Coding is powerful magic, and learning to code is like reading a pile of moldy spellbooks while grinding alchemical ingredients into fine powders—at least, it used to be. But new, interactive learning tools put the exercises front and center, promoting you from apprentice to sorcerer at your own pace. They’re all available on the Web, and most are free.


New Gmail image server proxies raise security risks – While Gmail’s new policy of automatically loading images by default may have some people excited, it comes at a security sacrifice. (Recommendation – turn this feature OFF.)

Microsoft: World Cup 2014 could be used as bait for cyber threats – Microsoft’s online security division has made a list of predictions of what it thinks will be the biggest cyber threats for 2014, which include criminals using the World Cup as bait for malware.

Firms Eliminate Embedded Code To Foil Targeted Attacks – Security providers are developing technology to strip out, or render unusable, any potential code in popular file formats.

Bitcoin market price app, ‘Bitcoin Alarm,’ is carefully cloaked malware – If you get a spam message advertising an application called “Bitcoin Alarm,” the name may tell you all you need to know. The desktop Windows application sends price alerts by SMS to a mobile phone. But closer examination of its code turned up several suspicious traits that indicate it may try to steal the virtual currency, wrote Kenny MacDermid, a research analyst with security company Arbor Networks.

Microsoft bets on Windows XP disaster – Microsoft today used the hoary practice of predicting next year to drive another nail into Windows XP’s coffin. In an eight-item prognostication from several security professionals on its anti-malware and Trustworthy Computing teams, Microsoft forecast an increase in cybercrime that exploits unsupported software. Microsoft’s No. 6 prediction put the spotlight, and the onus, on Windows XP.

Hacking The Zero-Day Vulnerability Market – Private brokers sell zero-day bugs for anywhere between $40,000 and $160,000 — and in some cases buyers could end up spending much more for lucrative targets, new analysis says.

Company News:

Microsoft introduces Cloud OS Network with over 25 partners – Microsoft has announced the formation of the Cloud OS Network, a group of over 25 third-party companies that offer cloud services based on Microsoft products like Windows Azure.

Bitcoin Hits the Big Time With $25M Coinbase Investment – Bitcoin wallet and platform Coinbase has received a large infusion of cash from well-known venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Microsoft reportedly offers $1bn to Samsung for future Windows Phones – Microsoft is said to be in negotiations with Samsung to ensure that the smartphone giant will continue to offer Windows Phones, allegedly offering a billion dollars of “support” as an incentive.

Aereo Open to Supreme Court Bout With Broadcasters – Online streaming service won’t oppose a petition brought by CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox for copyright infringement.

Adobe makes cloud turn goes well in Q4, outlook light – In the fourth quarter, Adobe ended with 1.44 million Creative Cloud subscriptions, up 402,000 from the third quarter. Enterprises continue to tap into Adobe’s subscriptions.

Games and Entertainment:

GOG offering Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics for free – Yes, is kicking off its annual winter sale by giving away free copies of Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics. The free game offer is only available for 48 hours, ending at 1:59PM GMT on Saturday, December 14.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for iOS hits iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for iOS has hit the App Store, bringing the latest open-world gaming experience to the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

Angry Birds Go! drives straight into your wallet with in-app purchase overload – What would have otherwise been a really fun game was brutally ripped open and stuffed with in-app purchases today. Please, a moment of silence for Angry Birds Go!

Games that made a splash on Facebook in 2013 – Facebook has revealed the list of games that made it big in the year 2013 on the social network; The list includes best new games, staff favourites and a hall of fame for honorary mentions.

SteamOS launches Friday for DIY gamers – Gamers that have been waiting to get their hands on the new gaming OS from Valve called SteamOS will be able to get their hands on the software this week. Valve has announced the first version of SteamOS will land Friday.

Razer Comms connects gamers with free Android app – Don’t be bothered by those annoying non-gaming friends always trying to invite you out to social events when you’re in the middle of a boss raid. Razer Comms, Razer’s in-game communications offering, is now available as a free Android app for connecting gamers on the go and rejecting anyone with enough gall to call you.

Off Topic (Sort of):

NSA agents are posing as Santa Claus, sings ACLU – In a Christmas YouTube video, there to make you laugh and quake, the ACLU gives a traditional Christmas song new lyrics and meaning.

Bots now running the Internet with 61 percent of Web traffic – Both good bots and bad bots can be found lurking online — looking to either drive traffic or wreak havoc.

‘The Hobbit’ and Other Movies That Will Make You Sick (and May Kill You) – The nausea and disorientation caused by the new frame-rate format for ‘The Hobbit’ films is child’s play compared with other films that may have actually killed people.

Google+ for Android turns your phone into a snowglobe – Google is adding a feature to the Android version of Google+ this month in their newest update that’ll turn your device into a snowglobe. What you’ll be able to do is open Google+, open a photo inside Google+, and shake to see snow.

Man sues gov’t for harassment, blames Google’s autocomplete – A former government contractor says he was fired after Google’s search engine autocompleted his attempted “How to make a radio-controlled airplane” by offering the word “bomb.”

Can Silicon Valley innovate its way to a gun violence solution? – Following the tragedy in Newtown, a group of entrepreneurs led by Ron Conway resolved to use technology to help stem gun violence. Their debut effort is an incentive challenge to create smarter, safer firearms.

Gas used since the 50s found to be 7000 times worse for global warming than CO2 – An old gas has been found to be an enormously powerful greenhouse gas — and there isn’t a stick of legislation restricting its use.

Something to think about:

Never… ever suggest they don’t have to pay you. What they pay for, they’ll value. What they get for free, they’ll take for granted, and then demand as a right. Hold them up for all the market will bear.”

–        Lois McMaster Bujold

Today’s Free Downloads:

Prey 0.6.2 – Prey lets you keep track of your phone or laptop at all times, and will help you find it if it ever gets lost or stolen. It’s lightweight, open source software, and free for anyone to use. And it just works.

LogMeIn Free – In a matter of minutes you can get fast, easy and secure access to remote computers (PCs and Macs) with LogMeIn. Simply install LogMeIn on the computer you want to access to gain remote control of its desktop, files, applications and network resources over the web. LogMeIn enables you to work via a web browser with a remote computer from virtually anywhere you have an Internet connection, as if you were sitting right in front of it.

Windows Firewall Control – Windows Firewall Control is a nifty little application which extends the functionality of the Windows Firewall and provides quick access to the most frequent options of Windows Firewall. It runs in the system tray and allows user to control the native firewall easily without having to waste time by navigating to the specific part of the firewall. This is the best tool to manage the native firewall from Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden says tech capabilities mustn’t trump laws and values – NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden says he “bet his life” that an open, societal discussion could lead to a better balance between the power of spy technologies and the power of democratic controls.

Presidential task force said to recommend NSA overhaul – Nonbinding suggestions propose sweeping changes at the agency, including shifting its leadership from the military to civilians, sources tell the Wall Street Journal.

Arizona lawmaker hopes to stop NSA spy efforts in her state – State Senator Kelli Ward, a Republican representing Arizona’s Lake Havasu City region, plans to introduce legislation next month that would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from extending any kind of support to the NSA. The measure would also bar state-owned utility companies from providing electricity or water supplies to any NSA facilities that might be set up in Arizona.

Google-Backed Email Privacy Petition Gets 100K Signatures, But Will It Work? – Google, along with a host of civil liberty groups, hopes it will pressure the administration into back legislation to require a warrant for email spying (“ECPA reform“). Given the White House’s history addressing tech-related issues on its petition platform, there’s a decent chance it could actually influence law. Or, as the White House often does, completely ignore the request.

Show us a better way than collecting metadata, NSA director says to critics – The NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. telephone records is the “least intrusive” way to track suspected terrorists’ communications with people in the U.S., Gen. Keith Alexander said, defending the NSA’s mass data collection and surveillance programs to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. “If we can come up with a better way, we ought to put it on the table and argue our way through it,” Alexander said. “There is no other way that we know of to connect the dots.”

Data Retention Directive CLASHES with EU citizens’ privacy rights, says top lawman – A seven-year-old EU directive that requires telecoms outfits to retain details of phone calls and emails – such as traffic and location – clashes with the 28-member bloc’s privacy rights for citizens, a Court of Justice Advocate General has said. Pedro Cruz Villalón believes that the 2006 data retention directive “constitutes a serious interference with the fundamental right of citizens to privacy”.

IT pros debate impact of NSA reform tech alliance – TechRepublic’s roundtable of IT experts share thoughts on NSA reform in light of the newly formed Global Government Surveillance Reform alliance of eight leading technology companies.

Internet companies dismayed by French law allowing warrantless access to live user data – The French senate passed a law allowing police and government officials warrantless access to user data from ISPs and online services.

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