Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 24, 2013

How the NSA has destroyed trust;  The Top 10 Tech News Stories of 2013;  The 10 Most Pirated Movies;  Target May Be Liable For Up To $3.6 Billion; Financial Trojans Taking Over The World?  Xbox One Review;  Create a digital Yule log on your HDTV;  Last-minute gifts for your favorite tech nerd;  Alan Turing receives Royal pardon;  Billion-dollar climate denial network exposed;  FREE USB Image Tool.

How the NSA has destroyed trust – Because we know that the NSA has attempted, and in some cases succeeded in making vendors and other third parties complicit in their data collection, it’s hard to completely believe vendor denials anymore. It’s the vendors who are the biggest victims here.

Create a digital Yule log on your HDTV – The weather outside may be frightful, but a fire is so delightful, especially when it’s a Yule log. We’ll show you how to get one streaming on your HD television set.

Google Santa Tracker joins voicemail system and North Pole village – Here you’ll be able to track Santa Clause as he makes the rounds around the world and – while you’re waiting for him to approach you – they’ve created a set of animated videos and games for you to experience as well.

Move your libraries to a second drive or partition – Whether you move your data folders to a second drive or a new partition on your existing drive, you’re making a good move. You can better protect both your Windows installation and your libraries if you keep them in separate storage units. And you can significantly speed up your system, without losing storage space, by keeping Windows and your programs on an SSD, and your data on a hard drive.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Inexplicably, the majority of porn in the US is now watched on mobile phones – According to Pornhub — the very same outlet that taught us what everyone is up to when in the anonymity of their own computer room — this is the first year that a country has watched the majority of its porn on a mobile device. It’s a small majority — just 52% of smartphones and 10% of tablets — but a majority nonetheless. The US is proudly leading the mobile revolution, with the United Kingdom and Mexico lagging behind at just 58% and 52%, respectively.

Click here to BEAT OFF Cameron’s SMUT ban – A programmer has designed a backdoor which will allow grumble movie lovers to get around UK prime Minister David Cameron’s ban on filth. Anyone using Chrome can now employ a simple extension called Go Away Cameron to bypass the new network-level “safety” filters implemented by the UK’s biggest ISPs: TalkTalk, Sky and this week, BT.

Wall-mount your tablet for $10 or less – So you want to stick your tablet on the wall. There are lots of ways to approach this project — including under-cabinet mounts and magnetic refrigerator enclosures — but most of these solutions ask you spend a minimum of $20 to $50. Not necessary. Whether it’s your kitchen companion or entertainment hub, there’s an inexpensive way to wall-mount your tablet so that it’s easily accessible and on display.

Microsoft releases holiday “Lite Brite” browser benchmark test – The Internet Explorer team at Microsoft has released their annual holiday themed browser benchmark test, and this one is based on the classic Lite Brite toy with four seasonal images.

The Top 10 Tech News Stories of 2013 – With 2013 coming to a close, it’s time to look back at some of the bigger stories in tech. What were people talking, tweeting, and writing about? What changed the industry? Let’s dive in.

Cheap last-minute gifts for your favorite tech nerd – Out of time? Don’t worry, you’re not out of options. Here are some easy but awesome last-minute gift ideas.

How to get Google to help feed the hungry — for free – Let Google “pay” for the data they collect on you by sending a charitable donation via Google’s dime — by using Google Shopping Express.


Target May Be Liable For Up To $3.6 Billion From Credit Card Data Breach – This is not exactly the merriest of times for Target. Last week the retailer revealed that credit card data from 40 million customers had been stolen. Now it looks like the giant retailer could be liable for up to $3.6 billion. Target could face a $90 fine for each cardholder’s data compromised, which translates to the $3.6 billion liability, according to a post on the SuperMoney website.

Target data breach: What you should tell non-IT folks right now – Help your friends, family, and coworkers understand the Target security breach, protect their accounts, and stay calm.

Target hackers try new ways to use stolen card data – For the first time, hackers market stolen data with info on the location of store where card was used; experts say new strategy will slow detection.

Bitcoin stolen during on-air newscast by at-home viewer – The digital currency known as Bitcoin has taken part in a newscast in which a fellow by the name of Matt Miller is robbed wirelessly, on live television. Of course Miller didn’t know he was being robbed – and in fact since he was giving gift certificates with Bitcoin on them to his co-anchors it was more like they were getting robbed, but the end result is the same. Herein lies a lesson in understanding how QR-codes work.

Financial Trojans Taking Over The World? – Symantec’s latest infographic reports that financial Trojans are on the rise as money transactions are done increasingly online

Apple, Please Give Us a Fix – a Guarantee – that Our iSight Webcams Are Safe – Rockwell’s dystopian vision of the future has arrived for iSight camera owners: somebody really could be watching — even listening — to your private life, using your computer’s webcam surreptitiously, snatching audio or video without tripping safeguard indicators like the little green LED that’s supposed to reveal when a webcam is active and capturing audio-visual information.

Company News:

BlackBerrry cancels two phones and BlackBerry Live 2014 – BlackBerry has announced there will not be a BlackBerry Live developer event held during 2014, and a regulatory filing reveals it has also cancelled plans for two low cost phones as well.

Microsoft to face computer makers’ rebellion at CES – Microsoft will face a rebellion of long-time partners at next month’s CES when OEMs introduce Windows PCs that can also run Android mobile apps.

Apple CEO Tim Cook revs rumor engine with talk of big plans – Apple CEO Tim Cook has piqued fan interest and rumors once again with a characteristically vague but enticing mention of “big plans” for 2014. The mention came by way of an employee newsletter he sent to the entire Apple workforce. It was nestled near the end of a long list of accomplishments both from a product standpoint and from a corporate citizenship perspective.

Rockstar consortium planning to offload some of Nortel patents – The Rockstar consortium, backed by companies such as Microsoft and Apple is planning to offload some of Nortel’s patents which they acquired last year after outbidding tech rival Google.

Samsung’s Newest Ad Is Pretty Much The Worst – Worried that none of their recent commercials would take home that coveted “Worst Ad Of The Year” trophy, Samsung has swooped in with one hell of a last minute entry. It’s like Samsung wanted to give us all a Christmas present. But instead of giving us socks, or candy, or a puppy, Samsung gave everyone a big ol’ box of cringe.

Acer names semiconductor veteran as new CEO – Now top man at Acer, Jason Chen previously held sales and marketing positions at Taiwan Semiconductor and Intel.

Games and Entertainment:

The 10 Most Pirated Movies – What are people watching? The week’s list of the 10 most pirated-movies includes some of the biggest new releases, from fantasy-action to rom-coms.

‘Halo: Spartan Assault’ for Xbox One released one day earlier than planned – Microsoft has gone ahead and released the Xbox One version of its top down shooter Halo: Spartan Assault, one day earlier than its previously announced Dec. 24th launch date.

Xbox One Review – Experiencing the Xbox One for the first time will almost certainly remind users of their first time working with Windows 8 – there’s a lot of tiles to be tapped, and they’re not always the easiest to traverse. In the Xbox One is Microsoft’s extended Windows experience, coming closer to the do-everything ecosystem the brand has been cultivating over the past several years.

Five Angry Birds games on Windows Phone updated with new levels – Rovio has updated five of its Angry Birds games released for Windows Phone devices today, with all of them adding new free levels to unlock and play along with other new features.

Off Topic (Sort of):

British Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing receives Royal pardon – Turing’s work is widely held to have shortened World War II, saving many lives, and provided much of the basic theory on which computer science would later be built. While he was celebrated for that effort, he was gay at a time when that sexual orientation was reviled in British society. In 1952 he was charged with “gross indecency” after a liaison was discovered, pled guilty and accepted treatment of chemical castration using female hormones as a punishment.

Arctic explorers find message in a bottle left in 1959 – Finding a message in a bottle in a remote part of the world is something that you might think would only happen in a work of fiction. However, that is exactly what has happened with a discovery made by researchers working on Ward Hunt Island in the Arctic. The island is off the northern cost of Canada’s most northerly Arctic island, Ellesmere.

Yes, It’s Real: Tim Draper Gives Details On Ballot Initiative To Make Silicon Valley A State – Silicon Valley is no stranger to unusual ideas, and today the world got to witness another: noted investor Tim Draper is proposing a ballot proposition to split California into six separate states. There were obviously a lot of questions raised by Draper’s “Six Californias” proposal after we first broke the news last Thursday, so the man with the controversial plan held a press conference this afternoon. Draper’s ballot proposition itself breaks California into six entities: Silicon Valley, West California, Jefferson, South California, Central California and North California.

Efficient set-top boxes to save $1 billion on energy annually by 2017 – The agreement, while voluntary, commits service providers to using more efficient hardware through to 2017. Although the individual savings will be small, the cumulative impact is massive: a billion dollars in electricity saved by consumers and five million fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

Billion-dollar climate denial network exposed: A network of 91 think tanks and industry groups are primarily responsible – An extensive study into the financial networks that support groups denying the science behind climate change and opposing political action has found a vast, secretive web of think tanks and industry associations, bankrolled by conservative billionaires.

Something to think about:

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!”

–      Charles Dickens

Today’s Free Downloads:

USB Image Tool – USB Image Tool can create images of USB flash drives and MP3 players, that are mounted as USB drives. It allows you switch between images with different music styles on your MP3 Player or to make an exact backup image of your USB Stick. USB Image Tool works with any device, that implements the USB Mass Storage protocol. This includes flash drives, card readers and a lot of other devices, like digicams, cell phones and mobile music players. USB Image Tool supports the globull secure mobile work environment.

Toolwiz Care – Toolwiz Care is a free tool kit designed to speed up your slow PC. With a multi-functional optimization suite, this Windows system optimizer provides a collection of tools which includes System Checkup, System Cleanup, System Speedup, and 40+ powerful tools to enhance your PC performance, local and network security, and optimize the start-up procedure. Toolwiz team guarantees users that Toolwiz Care will stay free forever. This tool kit is designed for all levels of PC users from beginners to experts.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

U.S. government moves to block further litigation in NSA surveillance cases – National intelligence director says continued litigation would reveal state secrets related to national security

Snowden: ‘I am still working for the NSA … to improve it’ – Edward Snowden believes he is “still working for the NSA right now” and that his actions in recent months don’t constitute treason but an effort “to improve the NSA”, according to an interview in The Washington Post. Snowden’s thinking is that he did not set out to “bring down the NSA” but that his theft of and distribution of documents will help to refocus the agency on its true purpose. He therefore told the Post that the NSA “are the only ones who don’t realize” he’s still working for the agency. Here’s a few of Snowden’s more interesting quotes from the interview.

RSA denies NSA collusion over backdoor code access – Security firm RSA has categorically denied colluding with the US National Security Agency (NSA) after allegations that the company accepted $10m of government cash in order to make compromised code its default. Reports late last week suggested RSA had been paid by the NSA to adopt a random number generator that the agency had purposefully left backdoor access to, something the company strenuously denies.

F-Secure won’t speak at imperialist lackey RSA’s conference – Fallout from the allegation that RSA helped the NSA undermine crytpography standards is spreading, with Finnish security vendor F-Secure uninviting itself from the 2014 edition of RSA’s eponymous conference. The reason, says F-Secure’s chief research officer Mikko Hypponen, is that RSA is an imperialist running dog. His strongly-worded missive addressed to EMC’s Joe Tucci and RSA’s Art Coviello says he won’t show at RSA and won’t deliver his planned speech titled “Governments as Malware Authors” at RSA 2014.

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