Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 17, 2013

Android App Sells Your WhatsApp Conversations;  Delete/disable Google location history;  Datawind releases $37.99 Android tablet in US;  12 creative uses for tablets;  Disney pulls streaming content of Christmas films;  Best smartphone for photographers?  Bruce Schneier to leave BT;  Fake VPN Site Serves Up Keylogger;  Amazon braces for strike;  13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do;  Federal Judge Rules NSA’s Program Likely Unconstitutional.

Android App Sells Your WhatsApp Conversations – Once the dangerous app is installed, said F-Secure, it uploads your WhatsApp conversations to another website where anyone with your phone number can purchase copies. The actual app to watch out for is called BalloonPop2. F-Secure and others report that it was available in Google Play for a time.

How to delete and disable your Google location history – Google can track your location and show you on Google Maps and Google Earth where you have been recently, which you may find useful, interesting, or invasive. Here’s how to see if you have location history turned on and how to disable it.

Datawind releases $37.99 Android tablet in US: A tablet originally released for education use in India makes its inexpensive way into the US market – The UbiSlate 7Ci anchors a lineup of tablets running Android 4.0. For the meager price tag, you get an 800×400-pixel 7-inch touch screen, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of flash memory, Wi-Fi, and a 1GHz processor. Those specs aren’t going to knock you off your couch, but it’s completely within the realm of reason for less than $40.

Hub Launches To Become The All-In-One Calendar And To-Do App For Your Family – Organization within families — or even within teams — has never been easy. Different people use different calendars and tools for to-do lists, which means that it’s tough to stay on the same page. Well there’s a new app called Hub that is designed to allow family members to share calendars and lists with one another.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Facebook is tracking what you don’t do on Facebook – Facebook is not shy about the information it collects on its users. Certain phrasings in its data use policy have indicated before that it may be collecting information about what doesn’t happen, like friend requests that are never accepted. Capturing the failures of Facebook interactions would, in theory, allow the company to figure out how to mitigate them and turn them into “successes.”

Make A Little You With – Arctec, makers of high-end 3D scanners for industrial clients, have added a little whimsy to your day with, a service that can scan and print your body in full color, allowing you to make a little mini me of your very own.

12 cool, creative uses for tablets – Use your tablet as a dSLR assistant, a car’s entertainment center, or an artistic canvas for you (or your cat). Here are some tablet duties you might not have thought of.

The Score lets you curate the perfect mobile sports feed – Letting you follow entire leagues down to individual players, The Score is essential for fantasy team owners.

How to archive files so they’ll stay around for years – People worry a lot about archiving digital files for long periods of time. The concern is legitimate. I wouldn’t go as far as the people who insist that burned CDs and DVDs (the kind you buy blank and write files to on your PC’s drive) last for only two to five years. But it is true that these burnable discs use unstable light-sensitive dyes, and will probably not be readable in 20 years. And if they are, will you still have optical drives for reading them? Or software that can read the files?

How to Create Your Own Google Street View Maps – Singular photographs are great tools for sharing a memory, but Google’s photo sphere technology does a little bit more to help recreate an experience.

Avoid Holiday Travel Boredom With These Apps – Whether you want to slim down the size but not the number of volumes in your library, lose yourself in front of a roaring (and puzzling) fireplace-based game, or visit a museum collection without waiting in line, we have you covered. For just a few dollars, and often even for free, you can download these amusing apps to accompany you on the road.

Closing the door on Windows: A guide to changing operating systems – If you’re going to invest money and time in making the transition to a new OS, you might as well consider all your options. Microsoft’s stranglehold on the desktop market has loosened over the past few years. Mac OS X, Linux, and even Chrome OS are sophisticated operating systems and are enjoying growing mainstream adoption. Here’s what to expect if you embrace one of these alternatives.

The “I got a Windows 8.1 machine for Christmas, now what do I do?” guide – With the holidays upon us, we know that many of our readers will likely find new hardware under the Christmas tree and if you are diving into Windows 8.1 for the first time, here is your new user guide.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX installment plan cripples your tablet if you don’t pay – If you’re in the market for a tablet this Christmas then this is a very cheap way of getting one quickly. However, if you miss a payment or stop paying completely, don’t expect that Kindle Fire to continue working properly.

Disney pulls streaming content of Christmas films in run up to holiday season – Disney Grinches-out and temporary restricts streaming access to Christmas films purchased on Amazon, which they apparently can just do.

Twitter may soon allow you to edit tweets: anonymous employees – Twitter is working on an edit feature. Meaning you could soon be able to edit your tweets — with some caveats. You won’t be able to write a tweet, publish it, wait a few hours, and then replace the content of the tweet with entirely different and unrelated content. Twitter is still working out the details of what you can and can’t do in edit mode, but the feature is on the horizon.

What’s the best smartphone for photographers? – Smartphones aren’t just for phone calls, or even texting or email. Now your smartphone doubles as a full-service camera, so which one is the best shooter these days? We compare several popular models to find out.


Security guru Bruce Schneier to leave employer BT: Nothing to do with criticising GCHQ and the NSA, insists telco – Noted security guru Bruce Schneier, who has spent a great deal of energy publicly analysing the Edward Snowden leaks into the activities of the NSA and allied spy agencies, is to leave UK telco BT. Our source suggested Schneier was shown the door as a result of his comments about the NSA and GCHQ’s global dragnet and mass surveillance activities. BT denies this, saying that the working relationship had come to its “natural end”.

Miner Madness! – How real malware tactics are being used to steal your system resources via miners.

Bogus AV program uses 12 stolen digital certificates to make the malware look legit – A fake antivirus program in circulation uses at least a dozen stolen digital code-signing certificates, indicating cybercriminals are increasingly breaching the networks of software developers, Microsoft wrote on Sunday. The application, branded as “Antivirus Security Pro,” was first detected in 2009 and has gone by a handful of other names over the years, according to a Microsoft advisory, which calls it by a single name, “Win32/Winwebsec.”

Fake VPN Site Serves Up Keylogger – VPN services have probably never been in more demand with the continued fallout of the Snowden / NSA revelations. They’re certainly handy things to have access to in terms of attempting to keep prying eyes out of your day-to-day business, and everybody should at least consider the ins and outs of jumping on board. That doesn’t mean you should let your guard down, however – sometimes trying to make yourself more secure can end up going horribly wrong, as we’re about to see.

How hackers made minced meat of Department of Energy networks – Hint: Some critical security patches not installed for years – The inspector general review recited a litany of failures that allowed hackers to penetrate system defenses. Chief among them is the fact that none of the 354 database tables containing social security numbers were encrypted. Using strong cryptography to protect such “at rest” PII has long been considered a best practice in government and corporate data security. The department’s management information system (MIS) that allowed access to the DOEInfo databases also failed to require common security enhancements, such as two-factor authentication or a department-issued virtual private network.

Company News:

Amazon braces for strike outside Seattle headquarters – Employees who have been striking in Germany plan to up their efforts by taking the fight to Amazon at its headquarters in Seattle.

Google fighting to move UK court battle to California – Google is embroiled in a legal row in the UK that the search giant insists shouldn’t be heard in front of UK courts. Rather, Google is arguing that the case over the search giant allegedly circumventing the privacy of some internet users in the UK should be heard in California where it is based. Google’s argument has led to the company being called “arrogant and immoral.”

Canada’s competition agency takes Google to court in antitrust investigation – The company has again come under fire for its search and advertising business practises. The Canadian Commissioner of Competition believes Google has abused its dominant search position and in an ongoing investigation has filed a document with the Federal Court of Canada demanding more information on the company’s practices.

Ivytalk Mobile App Makes Group Chat for Businesses Even Easier – Ivycorp – a provider of group messaging solutions for businesses and organizations – released a new version of its Ivytalk mobile application, designed to provide business-grade group messaging while keeping personal demographic, location, and other mobile usage information entirely confidential. New features in the application allow users to set up private chat groups with just a few clicks on their device, eliminating the need to create a user account or allow access to personal information.

Qualcomm pleads innocence as Chinese regulators turn the screw – Mobile CPU giant Qualcomm has released a lengthy statement denying any wrong-doing after Chinese media claimed regulators have “substantial evidence” in an anti-monopoly investigation which could lead to over $US1bn in fines for the firm.

Games and Entertainment:

DARPA wants you to play video games – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is crowdsourcing its software testing with a series of online games aimed at seeking out bugs and vulnerabilities.

Microsoft: First Xbox One indie games could launch around March 2014 – Microsoft’s ID@Xbox director Chris Charla stated in a new interview the first indie games for the Xbox One could be released in the first quarter of 2014, with March being the most likely time period.

World of Warcraft peaked at 12 million players, World of Tanks just passed 75 million – The game’s competition has responded by going free-to-play in a bid to survive, but there’s some online games that really do leave WoW for dust when comparing player numbers. One of those games is World of Tanks, which was only released in 2010 as a freemium game, but has this month celebrated 75 million registered players.

Minecraft on Xbox 360 hits 10 million sales, PS3 version coming Tuesday – Microsoft has announced that the Xbox 360 edition of Minecraft has reached the 10 million sales mark. Meanwhile, Sony will release a long-awaited PS3 version of the game Tuesday.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The 8 Companies of Google’s Robot Army – With its Boston Dynamics purchase, Google now owns eight robotics firms. We take a look.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do – Mentally strong people have healthy habits. They manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that set them up for success in life. Check out these things that mentally strong people don’t do so that you too can become more mentally strong.

Generate an insult-spewing North Korean press release online – Denounce yourself or your friends in no uncertain terms with the online North Korea Press Release Generator.

Has Microsoft finally admitted Windows 8 was a colossal blunder? – Microsoft’s decision to finally bring back a true Start menu to Windows begs the question: Has the company finally recognized what a massive mistake it made with Windows 8, or is Microsoft just reluctantly assuaging critics?

Netflix survey finds majority of TV streamers binge watch – Netflix has announced the results of a survey that it had conducted on its behalf by Harris Interactive. The survey looked at nearly 1500 people in the US that are TV streamers. TV Streamers are defined as adults that stream TV shows at least once per week.

Something to think about:

Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.”

–     Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

Five tools to bring the Start menu back to Windows 8.1 – When Windows 8.1 shipped, the Start button returned with it–but if it’s the Start menu you miss, you’ll still need one of these utilities. Most are free, and the only one that costs anything is well worth its extremely low price. Whether you make the jump to Windows 8.1 immediately or wait a bit, there’s really no point in waiting to enjoy these enhancements to your Windows experience.

Intuitive New Clean Master 4.0 App to Boost Android Performance – Clean Master 4.0 is designed with a sleek new user interface, making it easier than ever for you to keep or clean the data stored on your device. Colorful infographics give consumers an intuitive way to access the up-to-the-minute data the app provides— so keeping your smartphone running smoothly is effortless.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Federal Judge Rules NSA’s Phone Metadata Program Likely Unconstitutional – A district court judge has declared the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata likely unconstitutional. While civil liberties groups are hailing the ruling as a victory, Judge Richard Leon has stayed his ruling pending government appeal. The ruling is a legal setback for the NSA, and its defenders who have maintained that the program is at once legal, and an important tool for protecting national security. In his ruling, Judge Leon casts doubt on both counts.

Judge pulls no punches in ruling against NSA program – Judge Richard Leon ripped into the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Security Agency in his Monday ruling that the NSA’s controversial collection of U.S. telephone records may violate the Constitution. Leon, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled in favor of four plaintiffs who challenged the NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. telephone records. Here are some highlights of the 68-page ruling.

DOJ defends NSA phone records program after judge’s ruling – The U.S. Department of Justice defended the National Security Agency’s massive phone records collection program after a U.S. District Court judge ruled Monday that the program is likely to violate the Constitution. The DOJ has “seen the opinion and are studying it,” Andrew Ames, spokesman for the DOJ’s National Security Division, said in an email. “We believe the program is constitutional as previous judges have found. We have no further comment at this time.” The NSA referred questions to the DOJ.

India’s spooks prepare to peer through their own PRISM – The Indian government is gearing up to switch on “NETRA”, a large scale internet surveillance system that will allow its spy agencies to monitor suspicious online communications in order to detect certain keywords. The Network Traffic Analysis system, to give NETRA its full name, will scan tweets, status updates, emails, IMs, blogs and forums, for words like “attack”, “bomb” and “kill”, according to a telecom department note seen by Indian newspaper Economic Times. The paper claimed NETRA can also capture voice traffic containing suspicious keywords on services like Skype and Google Talk, although there was no detail on exactly how.

NSA’s Snowden Snow Job on 60 Minutes Reveals Nothing New – During his keynote speech at the Black Hat conference this summer, General Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, promised to tell the truth “to the fullest extent possible.” Hecklers shouted “You lied to Congress!” and “We don’t trust you!” There was no such pushback during the NSA infomercial aired as an episode of CBS’s 60 Minutes last night. It was an NSA love-fest, from start to finish. Perhaps that’s not surprising, given that interviewer John Miller admits he “once worked in the office of the director of National Intelligence where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates.” CBS crowed that Miller is the “ultimate insider,” without considering whether that’s actually a good thing.



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