Monthly Archives: December 2013

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 16, 2013

The 10 best Christmas songs – ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s;  19 essential traveller’s tech gadgets;  Dig deeper into Android, Gmail, Chrome, and more;  2013: The year in numbers;  Best gear for gamers;  Mozilla updates Firefox;  Cryptolocker: Menace of 2013;  Govt officials at 2011 G20 baited with porn;  Google Buys Boston Dynamics, Creator Of Big Dog;  Battlefield 4 gets patch;  All-TIME 100 Novels.

The 10 best Christmas songs of the last 40 years – Sure, Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” and Burl Ives’ “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” are old-school classics, but we’ve all heard them a million times. So spruce up this year’s holiday playlist with’s picks for the best holiday tunes from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

19 essential tech gadgets for any seasoned business traveler – Whether you’re on a road trip or heading on a long-haul, transatlantic flight, you’ll need these essential gadgets to keep you connected, productive, organized, and entertained.

How to Tell the FCC: No Phone Calls on Planes – It’s time to tell the FCC to keep the ban on cell phone calls in flight. Your sanity is at stake. Here’s how to file a public comment.

What You Should Know About the 2014 Light Bulb Ban – The light bulbs you grew up with are going extinct next year. 2014 will be the next step in the phasing out of incandescent light fixtures, and 40W and 60W bulbs will no longer be brought into the U.S. Don’t panic, this doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means. Here is your guide to the phase-out and what your options are now.

Google’s new Tips site helps you dig deeper into Android, Gmail, Chrome, and more – They’re handy, but beware: Google Tips’ helpful tidbits also encourage you to share even more personal information with the advertising giant.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Apple approves ‘only gay social app for ages 12 and up’ – The founders of believe it’s time for a gay social app that doesn’t have sex at its core. This is an app that “you can bring home to Mom.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook Gives Remarkable Speech on Gay Rights, Racism – Tim Cook, Apple’s media-shy chief executive, made a rare public speech at the U.N. this week. Auburn University, Cook’s alma mater, posted his 13-minute talk on Saturday. Cook went on to talk of gay rights, saying, “Now is the time to write these basic principles of human dignity into the book of law.” He also backed an immigration overhaul, adding of proposed reforms, “Do not do them because they are economically sound — although they are — do them because they are right and just.”

Tinder sparks half a billion matches – Like Hot or Not but for dating, the 15-month-old app is matching young people left and right. During peak hours, for instance, Tinder processes 50,000 requests per second. A request includes all Tinder actions like a log-in, photo upload, or swipe. Every day, there are 400 million profile ratings — aka a swipe left or right. And, on average, the company makes 4.5 million matches per day.

2013: The year in numbers – From single digits to trillions, the tech industry loves numbers, and it generated plenty of them in 2013. How much is Evan Williams worth? What percentage of YouTube traffic is mobile? It’s all right here. Here’s a look at some of the figures that stand out from the year.

The Audiophiliac’s totally awesome $100+ holiday gift guide – It’s that time of year, so the Audiophiliac rounded up some gift ideas for music lovers and audiophiles.

UK ISP BT Broadband to block porn for new customers by default – BT Broadband has revealed details of its new network-level Parental Controls, which will block access to adult content for all users by default, forcing them to opt out of the restrictions if desired.

Twitterers rally round #CensoredUK – to demand MORE PORN – Using the hashtag #CensoredUK, a rag-tag army of right-on carnal campaigners, feminists, pornographers, perverts and men in dirty macs launched a protest against Prime Minister David Cameron’s sexual censorship scheme. In the New Year, about nine in every ten British homes will have to explicitly tell their internet provider they want to access porn. The big four ISPs, TalkTalk, Virgin, Sky and BT, have all agreed to enforce the “opt-in” scheme, which will aim to boot pornography off this sceptred isle.

Twitter’s ‘Nearby’ could reveal who’s tweeting, well, nearby – The microblog is apparently testing a mobile feature that would map tweets posted by Twitter users, whether you follow those users or not. But it seems to be opt in.

PC World: We pick the best gear for gamers – Console gamer, PC gamer, or something in between? There’s something shiny here for all tastes and budgets.

Mozilla updates Firefox, adds click-to-play and patches – The browser’s latest update features reduced memory consumption designed to boost browser performance.

How to have the best videoconferences – Top tips, tricks and best practices so you can hold interesting and awesome teleconferences and meetings.


Tech threats abound beyond spam, malware during holidays – You know to beware while shopping online, but even brick-and-mortar outlets harbor technical security issues.

Online behaviors that increase the risk of identity theft – PrivacyGuard released the results of a survey aimed at observing and identifying a number of online behaviors that consumers willingly partake in that could put them at risk of fraud and identity theft.
Zeus banking malware resurfaces in 64-bit version – A 64-bit version of the notorious Zeus family of banking malware has been found, an indication that cybercriminals are preparing for the software industry’s move away from older 32-bit architectures. Kaspersky Lab discovered the 64-bit version of Zeus within a 32-bit sample.

Cryptolocker: Menace of 2013 – The scale of the Cryptolocker threat is disputable. It’s the psychology that is truly frightening.

Digital rights group: Users face choice of “privacy or security on Android, but not both” – A digital rights group has called on Google to restore app privacy controls that it removed in its latest Android update, and which Google says it ‘accidentally’ included in the OS earlier this year.

Microsoft joins FIDO Alliance that wants to replace passwords – Microsoft has joined the Board of Directors of the FIDO Alliance, which has a goal of coming up with a better form of online authentication than the old fashioned password.

Govt officials at 2011 G20 baited with porn – Attendees at the Paris summit of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors fell for an email promising nude photos of Carla Bruni, former supermodel and wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Vendor security patches lag dangerously, study suggests – Subscribers to organizations that sell exploits for flaws not yet known to software developers learn early about vulnerabilities in popular programs, a study says.

Company News:

Pension fund sues IBM for torpedoing China sales with NSA spy program – A pension fund has sued IBM for $12.9 billion in revenue losses caused by the recent revelation of its partnership with the US Congress and the NSA to spy on Chinese customers. Many of China’s companies pulled out of business arrangements with IBM after it became known that IBM was using its technology to collect customer information for the NSA. The suit cites IBM’s open lobbying effort to persuade Congress to pass the bill allowing the spying program known as Prism.

Qualcomm charged with price fixing in China – The US chipmaker could face a fine as the Chinese regulator holds ‘substantial evidence’ of price fixing.

Judge refuses to dismiss Netgear’s router fraud lawsuit against Asus – Lawyer talk isn’t usually the most exciting of topics, but Netgear’s suit is chock full of more intrigue and scandal than an episode of Matlock. In August, Netgear cried shenanigans about two Asus wireless routers—the RT-N65U 802.11n and the RT-AC66U 802.11ac—claiming that Asus knowingly shipped the routers with higher wireless power settings than FCC regulations allow, giving the routers an illegal leg up over Netgear’s own R6300 802.11ac router.

Google Buys Boston Dynamics, Creator Of Big Dog – Google announced that they’ve acquired Boston Dynamics, creators of quad- and bi-pedal robots like Big Dog and PETMAN. This is Google’s eighth robotics acquisition. The company did not disclose the details of the sale.

Amazon to go physical, open wholesale store Pantry to compete with Walmart USA Today is reporting that Amazon will launch a new wholesale chain to compete with the likes of Walmart and Costco, and perhaps to compete with the disadvantages of being solely based on the internet. The new wholesale outlet will reportedly be called Pantry, and will launch with about 2,000 items that would normally be found in a grocery store — food, cleaning supplies, and so on.

Adobe stock hits all-time high on subscription shift – Shifting from the Creative Suite license business to Creative Cloud subscriptions made plenty of customers angry, but it made plenty of investors happy.

Games and Entertainment:

Video tour: the ins and outs of the SteamOS beta release – A five minute walk-through of what Valve’s new OS looks like and how it works.

Battlefield 4 gets sorely needed patch for Xbox One – Battlefield 4, the pride of EA Games and DICE, has received a long-awaited patch for the Xbox One. The next-gen game has undergone a series of unfortunate events in the form of connectivity problems, server issues, and in-game bugs and glitches. The problems were so bad and so widespread that they dealt EA’s stock a blow in the stockmarket.

Activision wants $2 to turn your Call of Duty: Ghosts dog into a wolf – Microtransactions in games are quickly heading towards the ridiculous. Angry Birds Go! is the perfect example of this, charging $50 for new karts. But Call of Duty: Ghosts is also pushing the limits of what’s acceptable by asking players to pay $2 for a cosmetic change that sees a dog turned into a wolf.

Off Topic (Sort of):

All-TIME 100 Novels – Critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo pick the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923—the beginning of TIME.

7 Books Bill Gates Thinks You Should Read – Bill Gates is a busy man, but still has time for reading. Check out his 2013 favorites.

Nine tech torments I’d like to see fixed in 2014 – For CNET’s Stephen Shankland, ’tis the season to be a grinch about problems that sully his daily use of phones, PCs, and other devices — especially those that can be fixed.

U.S remains biggest producer of e-waste followed by China – The U.S. remains as the largest e-waste producer followed closely by China. The two nations are the largest contributors to the 48.9 million metric tons of waste, which could rise by a third by 2017.

China’s robot moon landing mission sends back selfies – China’s Chang’e-3 lander and Jade Rabbit rover launched Dec. 1 and landed on the moon yesterday without incident, and now we’re getting footage of the event. The photos and videos show the moon up close and personal. We’re also seeing shots of both robots on the moon, apparently in full working order.

Sell my company’s data? Make me an offer – A new survey says that if the price is right, nearly half of employees would happily sell on their company’s information and confidential data.

Something to think about:

Most people assume the fights are going to be the left versus the right, but it always is the reasonable versus the jerks.”

–      Jimmy Wales

Today’s Free Downloads:

CDBurnerXP – CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. It also includes the feature to burn and create ISOs, as well as a multilingual interface. Everyone, even companies, can use it for free. (Highly recommended.)

Directory Monitor – You can use Directory Monitor for the surveillance of certain directories and it will notify you of file changes, deletions, modifications, and new files in real-time. You can optionally execute an application when a change occurs.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The Government Really Isn’t Sure What Snowden Took – Out this morning in the New York Times is a stark tale: The United States’ intelligence apparatus has little idea what Edward Snowden took. As the full scope of what Snowden absconded with likely can’t be known, the government is forced to operate on its toes, unsure of what might be coming next. And that could be anything.

Snowden sitting on 1.5 million more documents, NSA estimates – Last month the NSA said Snowden had leaked 200,000 documents to journalists. Now we’re hearing estimates from the NSA itself that Snowden is sitting on 1.5 million additional documents — but the agency admits even that figure is more-or-less a shot-in-the-dark.

NSA alleges ‘BIOS plot to destroy PCs’: Un-named PC maker sought help to defeat un-named nation’s PC-bricking plan – Senior National Security Agency (NSA) officials have told US news magazine program “60 Minutes” that a foreign nation tried to infect computers with a BIOS-based virus that would have enabled them to be remotely destroyed. NSA Director General Keith Alexander and Information Assurance Director Debora Plunkett both appeared on the program in an attempt to defend the many unsettling domestic espionage programs revealed by Edward Snowden.

Archaic but widely used crypto cipher allows NSA to decode most cell calls – The National Security Agency can easily defeat the world’s most widely used cellphone encryption, a capability that means the agency can decode most of the billions of calls and texts that travel over public airwaves each day, according to published report citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

IBM hid China’s reaction to NSA spying ‘cos it cost us BILLIONS, rages angry shareholder – An IBM shareholder is suing Big Blue, accusing it of hiding the fact that its ties to the NSA spying scandal cost it business in China – and wiped billions off its market value. The Louisiana Sheriffs’ Pensions and Relief Fund has filed the suit in New York, claiming that Big Blue “misrepresented and concealed” that its association with the NSA caused Chinese companies and the Chinese government to abruptly stop doing business with it, according to the shareholder’s lawyers. “When the company ultimately revealed the truth regarding the collapse of its business in China, the price of IBM stock fell almost $12 per share,” the legal team said in a statement, while inviting other shareholders to join the suit.

‘Shame on Feinstein’ group warns of tech sales impact from unchecked NSA operations – A coalition of activist groups is pressuring Senator Dianne Feinstein to reign in NSA spying because of civil rights issues and economic consequences.


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

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.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 13, 2013

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

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.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 12, 2013

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

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 10, 2013

New US spy satellite world-devouring octopus;  2013: The year trust died;  Free AskMD app by Dr. Oz;  Google replaces buggy KitKat;  The FBI can turn on your webcam;  What’s the best picture mode?;  Are your medical records safe in the cloud?;  Ubuntu 13.10;  Top 5 government IT disasters;  NSA not feelin’ the love from Obama;  How Google is Changing Education (infographic);  Create own Street View tours;  US cops blew $26m buying 1.1m cell phone files.

New US spy satellite features world-devouring octopus – The satellite was launched late Thursday night, and ODNI’s Twitter feed posted photos and video of the launch over the following days. Unmistakable was the new NRO logo that goes with this satellite: “Nothing is Beyond Our Reach,” it says, featuring an octopus with its arms wrapped around the globe.

2013: The year trust died – As we move forward into a new year, fully aware of all the data gathering, surveillance, and big data out there, I have only one simple piece of advice: Watch where you step.

Feeling sick? Free AskMD app by Dr. Oz’s Sharecare aims to help – The app lets users enter symptoms, answer relevant questions, share consultations with health care providers, and maintain a general health and symptom history for multiple people.

Microsoft adds more security features to Microsoft Accounts – Microsoft has added new security features for Microsoft Account users, including a way to view any recent activity to make sure that the account has not been used by others.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google now lets photographers create own Street View tours – Part of the Web giant’s Views community, new feature allows the 360-degree panoramic photo spheres to be linked together to create a personalized virtual tour.

How Google is Changing Education (infographic) – “Education lies at the very core of our company’s mission, to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Best practices for creating a home inventory – Years of accumulated belongings can be lost in an instant. Should you ever suffer such a tragedy, you’ll be thankful you inventoried your belongings.

What’s the best picture mode? – Cinema, Sports, Dynamic, Vivid, Standard. Every new TV has multiple picture mode presets that change the way your TV looks. Picking the right one is an important first step in getting the most out of your TV.

The irrepressible evolution of the PC mouse – There’s Mighty. There’s Mickey. And then there’s that other mouse — the computer mouse. It’s now so integral to our daily lives that you scarcely give it a second thought. Unless, of course, you’re a gamer, a graphic artist, or anyone who craves the aptitude of a seriously high-end specimen. The computer mouse has come a long way — just take a gander at the exorbitantly over-engineered R.A.T. 7 gaming mouse to the left — and its historical milestones are plentiful.

UK Home Office Clarifies Rules Against 3D-Printed Guns – The UK Home Office has clarified the rules against 3D printed guns, finally stating unequivocally that 3D-printed firearms are prohibited under the Firearms Act 1968. According to an informational release, it is an “offence for an individual to possess, purchase or acquire any component part of a firearm without a certificate.”

Google replaces buggy KitKat with another update – Nexus 5 owners, don’t be surprised when you get Android 4.4.2 KitKat, even though the last Android update was just a few days ago.

6 Ways to Keep Santa’s Secrets Safe in a Digital World – When I was little, my sister and I used to sneak into my parents’ room and rummage through their closets in hopes of finding clues as to what we’d be getting for Christmas. Today, with online gift buying becoming the norm, it’s not just closets that can leave clues. Digital breadcrumbs can give you away to the tech-savvy kid.

New House bill seeks to ban in-flight cell phone calls – Chairman of the House transportation committee says airplanes are noisy enough without people talking away the flight on their phones.

Ubuntu 13.10: The good, the bad, the ugly, and the mobile – The newest release of Ubuntu, dubbed Saucy Salamander, doesn’t offer much in the way of new features – except for the introduction of Ubuntu Touch for mobile platforms.

Microsoft: Games are the most popular Windows 8/8.1 app category – In a new blog post, Microsoft stated that the Games category of Windows 8/8.1 apps had the highest number of downloads, while apps in the Social category have the highest ratio of downloads per app.

Codecademy Releases Its First Educational App – Codecademy released its first foray into the mobile space, an app-based intro course to coding designed to take less than an hour to complete. I had a lot of laundry to do, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Start menu may return with Windows ‘Threshold’ update – Don’t call it a comeback but Microsoft may return the Start menu with the Threshold update that will reportedly arrive in the spring of 2015

Pope Francis, Super Bowl Dominate Facebook Chatter in 2013 – As the door closes on 2013, Facebook is helping users take a walk down memory lane and reminisce about the year that was.


The FBI can turn on your webcam without you knowing – The former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division says this has been possible for years by using a malware delivery method which allows for a whole lot of snooping.

President Obama to propose “self-restraint” on NSA – Without going into detail, US President Barack Obama has said that he’ll propose “some self-restraint” to the National Security Agency (NSA) in order to rein in rampant snooping.

Other browser makers follow Google’s lead, revoke rogue certificates – Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera Software today joined Google in revoking rogue digital certificates that had been issued by a subordinate certificate authority (CA) of France’s cybersecurity agency. Google revoked the certificates for users of its Chrome browser on Saturday after a four-day investigation. Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera Software followed suit on Monday.

Are your medical records safe in the cloud? – Despite its popularity, there are hidden risks and costs – Many medical companies have started migrating patient records over to cloud servers to save costs but those savings could be negated by security costs and risks. When it comes to your medical records, not much is more important than your privacy. After all, that stuff is really personal. So the growing trend of storing all kinds of data – including our medical records – in the cloud, is troubling.

Microsoft’s anti-NSA encryption pledge raises questions – Microsoft says it’s fast-tracking the encryption of consumer data and moving toward greater source-code transparency. It sounds good on paper, though there are those who question why Skype, for one, was left off the list and how in the world we can trust a for-profit software maker.

Hackers stole data from five European nations at September G20 Summit – Network security company FireEye has reported a coordinated malware attack on five European foreign ministries. The attack took place last August just prior to the G20 Summit in September. It was achieved by sending the ministries email attachments bearing file names pertaining to the primary topic of the summit: military options in Syria. Once downloaded, the files allowed the hackers to monitor communications and steal data from the host machines. FireEye believes the hackers are from China, but it stopped short of alleging collusion with the Chinese government.

Company News:

Qualcomm Intros 4G LTE Chipset for Low-Price Smartphones – The Snapdragon 410 chipset, due out in 2014, is aimed at consumers in China and other emerging markets where 4G LTE coverage is coming online, Qualcomm said.

Twitter stock hits high marks with new ad rollout – Investors appear optimistic about the social network’s profitability as shares gain 9.3 percent to close at $49.14.

Target Experiments With A Pinterest-Powered Online Storefront, Dubbed The “Awesome Shop” – Target is testing an e-commerce storefront powered entirely by Pinterest recommendations, with the beta launch of a site called “Target Awesome Shop.” The site, refreshed daily, is a mashup of data from Target’s own online store and the social network. Today, it features Target products which have proven to be the most pinned items on Pinterest, that also have the top reviews from

Snapchat Requests Gag Order Against Ousted Founder – Snapchat has asked a federal court for a temporary gag order against ousted founder Reggie Brown, who claims he came up with the idea for the “disappearing messages” app.

Games and Entertainment:

Facebook selects Criminal Case (not Candy Crush) as game of the year – Pretty Simple’s Criminal Case is the Cinderella gaming story of the year, according to the social network.

No Man’s Sky trailer’s gaming universe is totally uniquely generated – In the trailer for No Man’s Sky, the developers at Hello Games have shown a game that’s about exploration of a fully procedurally generated set of environments. What this means is that the computer decided what to put where with only minimal input from the developers, this resulting in a universe – planets and outer space – able to be explored by the gamers who dive in for the first time.

Report: Xbox One hard drive becomes full at 362 GB – A new report says the 500 GB hard drive in Microsoft Xbox One’s 500 console maxes out when 363 GB worth of games and apps are installed, which could mean that many hardcore games will run out of space.

Halo: Spartan Assault for Xbox One lands December 24 The title – which slots in-between the plots of Halo 3 and Halo 4 in the in-game universe – will be offered as a digital download for the next-gen console, after having gone on sale for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 users earlier in 2013, though there’ll be some new tweaks to suit the Xbox One.

Xbox One owners tricked into bricking consoles in online prank – Anyone that has been on the internet for long knows that you can’t believe everything that you read. A person or persons on the website 4chan have posted a tutorial that supposedly unlocks new features for the Xbox One game console. Rather than unlocking features, the steps in the tutorial bricked the consoles leaving them inoperable.

Off Topic (Sort of):

11 amazing technologies that have totally changed our world for the better – What are the most awesome technology creations that have changed the world that we live in? Let’s start with these.

‘Bubble 2.0’ is the hint from a glut of blogs about a glut of tech knockoffs – Or maybe not. Still, back-to-back blog items on tech-product rip-offs does make you wonder a little.

Top 5 government IT disasters besides – The government program generally known as Obamacare is the poster child for poor government IT work. There have been others though.

TPP leak: US babies following bathwater down the drain – America is pushing too hard on too many fronts in the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty negotiations, making it unlikely the treaty will be finalised this year, according to a new round of leaked documents from the recent Salt Lake City meetings. The latest leaks, posted at Wikileaks, reveal how deeply unpopular some of America’s most treasured TPP positions are.

Report: Media coverage can cause more stress than being at a bombing site – Those who experience a terrorist attack firsthand are prone to suffer from acute stress. That much is obvious. But does living that experience repeatedly through the media’s coverage of the event cause even more stress? This is the question Roxane Cohen Silver of the University of California Irvine has asked in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. And the answer seems to be that those who followed media coverage for long enough did indeed have a greater chance of suffering from symptoms of high acute stress—sometimes even more than those who were present at the site.

Something to think about:

In a networked world, trust is the most important currency.”

–     Eric Schmidt

Today’s Free Downloads:

SX WiFi Security Suite 1.0 – The Complete Set of Wireless Security Tools from SecurityXploded including Wi-Fi Password Decryptor, Wi-Fi Password Dump, Wi-Fi Password Key Generator and Wi-Fi Password Remover.

Ashampoo Burning Studio Free 1.12.0 – The Ashampoo Burning Studio FREE keeps all the advantages of its predecessor and adds multi-disc file backup, an integrated audio CD ripper and further improved support for the exciting new Blu-ray format with capacities of up to 25 gigabytes per layer. Ashampoo Burning Studio FREE focuses on what you want: To burn discs quickly, easily, with maximum quality and minimum hassle. It includes everything you need to be able to do that. And it excludes everything that could get in the way.

PeStudio 7.90 – PeStudio is a free tool performing the static investigation of any Windows executable binary. A file being analyzed with PeStudio is never launched. Therefore you can evaluate unknown executable and even malware with no risk. PeStudio runs on any Windows Platform and is fully portable, no installation is required. PeStudio does not change the system or leaves anything behind.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA And Other Intelligence Agencies Got All Up In Your World Of Warcraft, Xbox Live – The next time you’re looking to party with a dark elf Rogue in World of Warcraft, think twice: that could be an NSA agent in disguise. According to new documents from the Snowden leaks, both the NSA and the GCHQ employed World of Warcraft and Second Life, as well as Xbox Live, to gather intel and uncover plots – but it seems mostly they ended up just bumbling into one another by accident.

Snowden leak examines gaming as a terrorist propaganda and training tool – The latest document dump from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is getting a lot of deserved attention for revelations that international security agencies are taking steps to monitor communications inside online games. But those leaked documents also include an in-depth report on the potential for games to be used as recruitment, training, and propaganda tools by extremist organizations. Security contractor SAIC produced the 66-page report “Games: A look at emerging trends, users, threats and opportunities in influence activities” in early 2007, and the document gives a rare window into how the US intelligence community views interactive games as a potential tool to be used by foreign actors.

NSA not feelin’ the love from Obama – Morale at the US spook agency the NSA has plummeted, according to an officialish survey. According to the Washington Post, spooks working for the NSA were apparently labouring under the impression that they were fighting the good fight and were the white hats in any US spying efforts. The Edward Snowden revelations showed that they were not as squeaky clean as they thought, and that efforts were lowering the standards of the world. To make matters worse, they are concerned that President Barak Obama has not visited them to indicate his support for their actions – after all, he only lives around the corner.

US cops blew more than $26m buying 1.1m cell phone files from telcos – An investigation by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) into the monitoring of cellphones has found that US police paid telecommunications companies more than $26m to hand over location information, metadata, and sometimes the content of their customers’ messages to cops in the US last year. Senator Markey sent letters to the major US mobile providers asking how they handled requests from law enforcement, and found that last year telcos passed over 1.1 million records about customers to federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. For this cooperation T-Mobile banked about $11m, with Verizon bagging a little under $5m, and AT&T getting “approximately $10,298,000” in fees.

Dutch minister to question US Embassy about rooftop antennas – The Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations will question the U.S. Embassy over the purpose of its rooftop antennas, the minister wrote in a letter to the House of Representatives Monday. Minister Ronald Plasterk will question the embassy after concerns were raised that the antennas can be used to intercept data from mobile phones used in the nearby Ministry of the Interior in The Hague and the Binnenhof, where the houses of parliament are located.

Tech giants push surveillance reform: What wasn’t said – If Microsoft, Google, Facebook and other tech leaders want the NSA’s surveillance practices reformed they need to start talking about the potential financial hit a lot more.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 9, 2013

Turn any HDTV into a smart TV; 7 keyboard shortcuts for Google+; How to set up a virtual machine;  Turn Holiday Photos Into Sparkly, Snowy Winter GIFs;  3G vs. 4G: What’s the Difference?;  Dell Venue 8 Pro for $99, But Act Fast;  LED vs. Plasma: Which HDTV Is Best?;  Cheap 3D printer works with steel ;  PDF, Flash, Java: the Most Dangerous File Types;  Dozens of zero-day flaws daily;  The Top 10 Best Movies of 2013; Microsoft ends Windows 7 retail sales ;  Basic Science And Tech Facts Americans Don’t Know.

How strong is your password? Microsoft’s Telepathwords may well predict it – Cautious internet users often invest a lot of time in generating a secure password, but does it pay off? Microsoft has developed a program that will determine how hackable your password really is. The tool was tested by hundreds of Microsoft employees before release and is now available to the public.

Google+ Turns Holiday Photos Into Sparkly, Snowy Winter GIFs – Google is getting into the holiday spirit with a neat new feature on Google+ that will automatically turn your holiday photos into sparkling, snowing GIFs.

How to set up a virtual machine for your Internet access – Thanks to the low price of RAM and availability of fast solid-state drives (SSDs), an increasingly appealing solution is to set up a virtual machine (VM) just for working with emails and browsing the Internet. This requires less hassle but offers heightened security by accessing the two likeliest attack vectors from what is effectively a security sandbox. Here’s how to set up your own VM.

7 keyboard shortcuts for Google+ notifications – Keyboard shortcuts are faster, more efficient, and easier on your hands. Start breezing through Google+ notifications by memorizing this list.

How to transform any HDTV into a smart TV – Early HDTVs were strictly high-definition televisions. But modern HDTVs are essentially all-in-one computers that can run apps, access the Web, handle games, and do all sorts of other cool stuff. If you have an older HDTV without any “smart” features and you can’t afford or just don’t want to upgrade to a newer, more capable set yet, you may be interested in these fairly inexpensive devices for adding smart features to your existing set.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft to Sell Dell Venue 8 Pro for $99, But Act Fast – On Monday, the Dell Venue 8 Pro will be $99, down from $299. But you’ll need to act fast. The promotion begins in Microsoft Stores at 10 a.m. local time, but only the first 20 customers will have the chance to buy the tablet for $99. After that, the price goes up to $199 while supplies last.

Facebook experiments with ‘Sympathize’ button for less happy ‘Likes’ – Acknowledging the bad news that a friend has posted on Facebook with a ‘Like’ isn’t exactly ideal – but the social network has been experimenting with a ‘Sympathize’ button for such situations.

3G vs. 4G: What’s the Difference? – If you’re buying a new smartphone, you’ll need to choose a type of data network. We explain 3G and 4G in simple terms.

You live on your laptop. You need these accessories – Your laptop sits loyally at your side through long travels, crowded gatherings, and stressful shopping sprees. Sometimes it keeps you warm in bed, and it even plays that obnoxious holiday music without a single complaint. It’s time to spoil it with a few new bells and whistles that you both will love. Go on, you—and your PC—have earned it.

LED vs. Plasma: Which HDTV Is Best? – Today’s rapidly evolving display technologies have made it easier to crown a winner in the HDTV wars.

Windows 8.1 Preview license ends in January 2014 – Microsoft says the license for the public preview version of Windows 8.1 will end sometime in January 2014, after which the OS will no longer work when installed on a PC.

Google Play Music App Update Adds SD Card Storage – Google this week updated the Android version of its Play Music app with a few nice additions, including SD card support for offline music.

Find the right backup drive for your storage needs – If coming up with a backup strategy is one of your New Year’s resolutions, maybe a backup drive should be on your holiday shopping list. We can tell you what to look for.

PetChatz “Greet and Treat” webcam helps you interact with pets online – PetChatz is a web cam that lets you interact with your pet on a number of levels from anywhere in the world. Install it over a wall outlet, secure it to a stud, connect it to your home WiFi, fill it with treats and a special scent, and you’re set to go. The device was conceived as a way to reduce pet owner separation anxiety, but its maker Anser Innovation also claims it makes for healthier, happier pets.

Cheap 3D printer works with steel – The one thing that made 3D printed guns tolerable to the non-gun-owning community was that they were made of plastic, because metal 3D printers were costly. Now, a bunch of scientists from Michigan Tech are showing off a cheap 3D printer that fabricates in metal. The printer, described in detail here, produces steel components, and while its creators describe it as “a work in progress”, they’ve already successfully produced simple shapes like sprockets.


PDF, Flash, and Java: the Most Dangerous File Types – A report just released by AV-Test should be a huge wake-up call for anybody who doesn’t pay attention to software updates. After ten years of study, the researchers concluded that security holes in Adobe and Java are responsible for 66 percent of all vulnerabilities actively exploited in Windows.

Anatomy of a hack: Team meets a professor’s challenge – An NYU professor challenged a team of hackers to break into his online world. They did, but it wasn’t easy or cheap.

Rogue flashlight app shines a light on the importance of Android app permissions – An Android flashlight app downloaded more than 50 million times has been sharing your location and phone ID with advertisers, even when you asked it not to.

JPMorgan Chase Warns 465,000 Pre-Paid Card Holders Affected in Data Breach – JPMorgan is notifying affected cardholders, about 2 percent of the total 25 million people who have UCards and used the UCard Center website between July and September, because “it couldn’t rule out the possibility that their personal information was among the data removed from its servers,” Reuters reported. Affected individuals will start receiving email notifications starting Monday. The notification process is expected to take a few days.

Microsoft’s last Patch Tuesday of 2013 will be huge – Microsoft wraps up the year’s Patch Tuesday bulletins next week with 11 more fixes, pushing this year’s total to 106, up from 83 in 2012.

Dozens of zero-day flaws exist for exploit daily, report says – NSS Labs calculates that cybercriminals have access to 100 zero-day flaws on any day, with more than half affecting major vendors.

Company News:

Microsoft ends Windows 7 retail sales – Microsoft has quietly ended retail sales of Windows 7, according to a notice on its website. The company’s policies for shutting off sales to retailers and shipping licenses to OEMS (original equipment manufacturers) are posted on its site, which was recently updated to show that Windows 7’s “retail end of sales” date was Oct. 30. The next deadline, marked as “End of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled,” will be Oct. 30, 2014, less than a year away.

Microsoft’s Android royalties in danger as German court invalidates FAT patent – The Federal Patent Court of Germany has invalidated Microsoft’s FAT patent which the company has been using to gather royalties from infringing Android device manufacturers for the past few years.

Adding insult to injury, Apple asks Samsung to pay legal fees – Apple has asked Judge Lucy Koh to order Samsung to pay $22 million legal fees incurred in the landmark patent lawsuit which took place over the past 15 months with verdict going in Apple’s favour.

Samsung to launch 1TB mSATA SSD this month – Samsung this evening announced it will launch the industry’s first 1-terabyte (1TB) mSATA SSD this month. That doubles the capacity (512GB) of some of the largest-capacity mSATA SSDs generally available today. As such, the 1TB 840 EVO mSATA SSD is poised to bring unprecedented large-capacity hard storage to some of the market’s thinnest portables.

Dell cutting workforce with voluntary employee buyout – Dell has aimed to cut its workforce by offering what it is politely calling a “voluntary separation program,” which is a gentle way to say they’re looking for employees to voluntarily jump the ship. The offer is coming in conjunction with a buyout package, of which the incentives have not been detailed, though the Wall Street Journal reports that it has reviewed the materials.

Microsoft takes to the streets to show off the limitations of Google’s Chromebook – Microsoft evangelist Ben Rudolph, who used to compare Windows Phone devices to other smartphones, is shown in a new video hitting the streets to show people that a Chromebook has lots of limitations.

Games and Entertainment:

TIME: The Top 10 Best Movies of 2013 – See the rest of TIME’s Top 10 of Everything 2013 lists here.

Microsoft warns against using fake Xbox One backwards compatibility “trick” – A claim that the Xbox One can play Xbox 360 games via a backwards compatibility “trick” has been denied by Microsoft’s Larry Hryb, saying such actions “could make your console inoperable.”

Riot reverses course, says pro League of Legends players can stream other games after all – In response to the backlash, Riot Games has backed down. e-sports publication onGamers, which broke the news of the original contract, now reports that while gamers and teams contracted to play in LCS cannot be sponsored by other game companies to advertise competing games, they are free to stream them as they see fit.

Game Trailer Time: The Best of the 2013 Spike VGX Awards – We’ve picked our top five favorite trailers from this year’s awards show — arguably, more fun to watch than the show itself!

Terminator is back as a TV series that shares continuity with upcoming movie trilogy – A Terminator television show will be reforming its liquid metal parts sometime in 2015, but it won’t be in the form of The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The Terminator franchise is getting rebooting in the form of a trilogy slated for release in 2015, and the television show will act as a companion program, similar to how Agents of SHIELD keeps the Marvel movie universe fires burning while we wait between releases.

Off Topic (Sort of):

2014: The year we start developing for mobile first – Things are changing in how customers want to interact with businesses.

A Few Basic Science And Tech Facts Many Americans Don’t Know – How does a power cord charge a cellphone? Magic, silly! According to a Pew poll, many of my fellow Americans are completely in the dark about how their world works, including the fact that carbon dioxide is a chemical responsible for some global warming. Pew’s quiz is especially salient this week, after another round of International test scores confirmed, once again, that America’s poorly run education system is producing a deeply unequal and uninformed society. Here are a few of the essential gems that participants couldn’t answer.

Should Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter really judge what’s news? – Those companies aren’t news providers in any traditional sense, but they’re trying harder to become the go-to place where their users learn about current events. It opens up new streams of revenue for the companies, but some experts wonder what it will mean for how we consume news. They are not necessarily malevolent forces, but Internet companies’ power to influence what citizens read and see — and what they don’t — is becoming greater.

GAME “Christmas Tinner” goes viral: authenticity unconfirmed – The Christmas Tinner is a Christmas dinner in a can. You can eat it all day long. Start at the top and work your way down throughout the day. Scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast, mince pie for morning dessert. And on down through the day with turkey, potatoes, gravy, and more, all the way to your nightcap pudding. In one can. The news of this product has blown up the Googles. We’re pretty sure it’s a well played hoax. We concur with Geekosystem that Christmas Tinner “looks too ridiculous to be true, because it’s probably not.” But we want to buy a few because it’s ingenious and horrible.

It’s Time For A Special Regulatory Zone – Your government is the enemy of the future. Innovative technology that would disrupt the world as we know it is already here, but oppressive government bureaucrats keep getting in its way. Taxi commissions vs. Uber; the FDA vs 23andMe; the FAA vs. Amazon Prime Air; the DMV vs. self-driving cars; governments everywhere vs. Bitcoin. This is intolerable and must stop. The government must get out of Silicon Valley’s way.

10 rudest behaviors in the workplace – Most of us aim not to be rude in the workplace, but sometimes the line is thin between adorable quirkiness and just plain annoying. Here are some behaviors to avoid.

10 crazy undersea creature GIFs – Below the waves exist creatures so bizarre you’d have trouble believing they evolved on the same planet as you.

10 old-school IT principles that still rule – That’s not exactly how the saying goes, but it is the phrase that should be engraved over every door leading to IT. It’s certainly better than “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Not a lot has changed since our early days, when IT was EDP and programmers were the high priests of the glass house. Except for everything.

Something to think about:

It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends.”

–      J. K. Rowling

Today’s Free Downloads:

PicPick – It is an all-in-one program that provides full-featured screen capture tool, intuitive image editor, color picker, color palette, pixel ruler, protractor, crosshair and even whiteboard. It has not only everything what you need, but it loads fast, sits quietly in the system tray until needed.

PasswordFox – PasswordFox is a small password recovery tool that allows you to view the user names and passwords stored by Mozilla Firefox Web browser. For each password entry, the following information is displayed: Record Index, Web Site, User Name, Password, User Name Field, Password Field, and the Signons filename.

GeekUninstaller – Standard removal program leaves tons of leftovers on your PC. GeekUninstaller performs deep and fast scanning afterwards and removes all leftovers. Keep your PC clean! Use Force Removal for stubborn and broken programs.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google catches French govt spoofing its domain certificates – Fraudulent certificates were used in a commercial device to inspect encrypted traffic on a private network. Google used the incident to highlight the need for its Certificate Transparency project, aimed at fixing flaws in the SSL certificate system that could result in man-in-the-middle attacks and website spoofing. Google’s answer to these flaws is for CAs to adopt a framework that monitors and audits these certificates, thus outing rogue CAs or when certificates are illegitimately issued.

On snooping disclosures, AT&T wants to remain silent – AT&T wants to silence a shareholder proposal that it disclose the government requests it receives for customer information, rejecting a step that Google, Microsoft and other Internet companies have already taken. The proposal calls on AT&T to publish semi-annual reports about the information requests it receives from U.S. and foreign governments. Under the plan, the reports would be subject to existing laws and omit proprietary information.

Tech Companies Outline More NSA Reform Demands – Before Congress’s holiday recess, Silicon Valley’s major tech companies have renewed calls for surveillance reform. Executives from Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, Linkedin, Twitter, and (TechCrunch parent company) Aol have put their weight behind the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, publishing and open, collective letter to Congress and President Obama.

FBI surveillance malware in bomb threat case tests constitutional limits – The growing sophistication of the spyware—which can report users’ geographic locations and remotely activate a computer’s camera without triggering the light that lets users know it’s recording—is pushing the boundaries of constitutional limits on searches and seizures, The Washington Post reported in an article published Friday. Critics compare it to a physical search that indiscriminately seizes the entire contents of a home, rather than just those items linked to a suspected crime. Former US officials said the FBI uses the technique sparingly, in part to prevent it from being widely known.

NSA Claims Collecting Cellphone Location Data Is Legal Under Executive Order — From 1981 – Today the National Security Agency (NSA) discussed its program that collects billions of cellphone location records each day. The NSA targets foreign phones but also absorbs data on the phones of American citizens.

Skype’s Suspicious Absence From Microsoft’s Anti-NSA Promises – Microsoft’s public relations department was on encrypted cloud nine yesterday, riding a wave of high-five press reports for their swift action to protect consumers from National Security Agency surveillance. Noticeably absent from their victory lap was any mention of Skype, the wildly popular communication service that has been a favorite target for surveillance. “I agree that Skype’s absence here is extremely interesting and concerning,” wrote the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl to us in an email. “Microsoft, as the owner of Skype, has totally failed to be transparent about this and it’s not surprising that users and security experts come to believe that it has something to hide.”

NSA spies on Italians from roof of US Embassy in Rome, magazine reports – The allegations are based on documents the magazine says were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.


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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 6, 2013

Essential free software;  Five free Firefox add-ons for the security conscious user;  Android apps that play nice with your PC;  Every Customer Support Number You’ll Ever Need;  Mobile – CDMA vs. GSM: What’s the Difference?;  Microsoft acts on NSA’s ‘persistent threat’;  8 tips to protect your business’ wireless network;  Apple – preferred US consumer PC choice;  Will this robot make America safer?;  Find out if your password has been stolen;  Mobile apps put your security and privacy at risk.

Essential free software you can’t afford to miss – Free doesn’t have to mean cheesy, especially when it comes to freeware. A developer’s passion project can become something you can’t imagine being without, and the fact that you don’t have to lay out any cash to acquire it is a major bonus. Some developers accept donations to further development, so consider giving what you can if you find value in their efforts. Here are some of our favorite freebies.

Five free Firefox add-ons for the security conscious user – For those that do not want to wade through the tide of installable features, I have brought together five of my favorite security add-ons for Firefox. With these five added features, you should find that Firefox will meet your highest security standards (within reason of course).

Study finds most mobile apps put your security and privacy at risk – The average smartphone user has 26 apps installed. If recent research conducted by HP is any indication, approximately, well, all of them, come with privacy or security concerns of some sort. The HP study focused purely on custom business apps, but there’s no reason to believe the issue doesn’t extend to commercial apps you find in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Many apps have access to data or permission to perform functions they shouldn’t.

9 ways to stay below your data cap on Android and iOS – Telecoms want you to buy bigger data allowances, and they have the leverage to do so: We’re using more data than ever these days thanks to apps, social media, Web services, and our obsessive email-checking. So what’s a hard-working, socially connected, tech-savvy person such as yourself to do with a limited data plan? Follow these tips to cut back on your data habit, track and monitor your usage, and extend your data plan—so you never have to pay overage charges again.

Encryption, lawyers, and openness: Microsoft acts on NSA’s ‘persistent threat’ – “We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution.”

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

13 highly productive Android apps that play nice with your PC – Getting things done on disparate devices doesn’t mean you have to abandon a cohesive workflow. These 13 Android apps sync, link, connect, or just plain play nice with your computer in ways that make it easier to stay productive no matter where you are—and with minimal hassle. Check ’em out.

Nexus 5 Android 4.4.1 update released to boost camera – Google has released Android 4.4.1 KitKat, addressing the primary source of Nexus 5 complaints: the camera. Teased earlier today, the new software takes on some of the common complaints about photography on the Nexus 5, including the speed at which it focuses, and the shutter lag which has led many to complain that they miss more photos than they take.

Quick and simple time-saving tips for the Nexus 7 – One good thing about the tablet wars is that there can be more than one winner. Even for a longtime iPad user such as myself, there’s a lot to like about the Nexus 7. You’ll like the device even more after you’ve tweaked a few of its default settings. Here are a handful of customizations guaranteed to make your use of the Nexus 7 more enjoyable.

Google’s Voice Search On Android And iOS Can Now Answer Questions In German, French And Japanese – Google has long had a thing for voice search, but until now, the only language it fully supported was English. Even though voice search itself is available for a few dozen languages, the only language Google could respond in with spoken answers was always English. That’s changing today. Google just announced that its Search app for iOS and Android can now speak out answers in French, German and Japanese.

How to Talk to a Live Person: Every Customer Support Number You’ll Ever Need – Customer Support is theoretically there to help, but it too can be a disappointingly unpleasant experience. To help you avoid all that frustration, we’ve compiled a list of customer support phone numbers and tips for navigating to an actual person. From retailers to wireless carriers to cable providers to manufacturers, calling these numbers and following a few easy steps will get a real person on the line before you know it.

Seene creates 3D photos on your iPhone – A free app in the App Store called Seene will help you create 3D photo scenes, using your iPhone’s camera. The process is simple, requiring nothing more than a subject that stays still and a steady hand.

Make the Internet Explorer app run in two windows – A secret hidden in the Internet Explorer app that will allow you to have two tabs open on the screen at one time and position them side-by-side.

Mobile – CDMA vs. GSM: What’s the Difference? – If you’re shopping for a mobile phone, you’re in for a lot of acronyms. Here’s what you need to know about two basic, yet important, terms.

Data Portability Win! Google Now Lets You Export All Your Gmail & Calendar Data Via Google Takeout – Google has been good about offering a number data portability options through its Google Takeout service, which has previously allowed users to download data for over a dozen products, including Contacts, Drive, Voice, and more. But today, the company is adding two of its flagship properties to Google Takeout, with the new ability to export your all your Gmail and Google Calendar data.

Six essential tips when making videos for mobile devices – People no longer have to rely on PCs or laptops to watch instructional videos. So, enterprises are now creating their own videos for mobile devices. With that in mind, here are six useful tips that will help you create top-quality videos for your customers.

Microsoft Launches Bing Maps Preview With High-Res 3D Imagery – As Microsoft promised during its BUILD developer conference earlier this year, the company today launched a first preview of its new maps app for Windows 8.1. The highlight of this release is the addition of 3D imagery, something Microsoft tried a few years ago with Bing Maps online but then shelved after it moved away from its proprietary Silverlight technology. The new app is now available in the Windows Store.


Five critical fixes on deck for Patch Tuesday – Microsoft is planning to release at least five critical fixes in next week’s Patch Tuesday monthly security update. Among the products which will be impacted by the critical updates are Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows XP. The Internet Explorer updates will address flaws in versions 6 through 11 of the web browser. Windows Server 2012, 2010, 2008, and 2003 will also see updates, as will the Windows 8 RT tablet build. Also addressed in the update will be critical flaws for Office 2013, 2010, 2007, and 2003. Microsoft warned that if exploited, the vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to remotely execute code without user notification.

How to find out if your password has been stolen – There are many public databases of breached accounts, the largest breach being that of, but no way to search across all of them. Until now.

Twitter’s new ads program tells advertisers your browsing habits – The global rollout of the ads program allows any marketer to target users who have already expressed interest in their brands outside Twitter with relevant promoted tweets.

Hack on JPMorgan website exposes data for 465,000 card holders – JPMorgan Chase has warned 465,000 holders of prepaid cash cards that their personal information may have been obtained by hackers who breached the bank’s network security in July, according to a report published Thursday. In September, bank officials discovered an attack on Web servers used by its site and reported it to law enforcement authorities. In the months since, bank officials have investigated exactly which accounts were involved and what pieces of information were exposed.

Microsoft disrupts ZeroAccess botnet in collaboration with FBI and Europol – Microsoft has revealed that it has disrupted a “rampant botnet” known as ‘ZeroAccess’ – which has so far infected almost two million PCs – in collaboration with the FBI, Europol and industry partners.

Android Flashlight App Shared User Data Without Permission – The Federal Trade Commission has settled with the makers of the Android Flashlight app, which distributed users’ personal information to third parties without their permission. The Brightest Flashlight Free app turns the user’s phone into a flashlight. But it was sending a user’s location and unique device identifier to third parties, including ad networks.

8 tips to protect your business’ wireless network – Common router features may be putting your data at risk. Follow this guide to close the security holes.

Company News:

Apple bests Dell for first time as preferred US consumer PC choice – Apple is now the preferred choice of US consumers shopping for desktop PCs, according to a nationwide survey of 2,500 “US broadband households” conducted by the research firm Parks Associates. “Apple topped the list of intended brands for desktop purchases for the first time this year,” said Parks Associates’ director of consumer analytics John Barrett in a statement. “In 2011 and 2012, Dell was the top desktop brand, but Apple has displaced it, making Apple now the most popular brand across even more key [consumer electronics] categories.”

Report: Spotify plans to launch a free, ad-supported mobile music option – According to The Wall Street Journal, Spotify could launch free, ad-supported mobile music as early as next week, together with limited a la carte selections.

Broadcom Goes After Automotive Market With Android Syncing Platform – The new Bluetooth-based software stack syncs Android devices with automotive computing systems providing entertainment, navigation, and other in-vehicle apps

Core wars redux: Intel to ship 15-core Ivytown chip – Intel confirmed Thursday that it will release a 15-core server chip code-named Ivytown, which will be based on the Ivy Bridge architecture. Intel until now had topped off at 12 cores with the Xeon E5 v2 chips that shipped in the third quarter of this year. The 15-core chip is destined for high-end servers. It will likely go into four- to eight-socket servers, which typically handle high-end computing for databases and enterprise resource planning systems.

UK politicians call on shoppers to boycott ‘tax-avoiding’ Amazon – Eight British Members of Parliament have called on UK shoppers to boycott Amazon, calling the company’s tax avoidance policies “morally wrong” and a threat to other businesses and jobs.

Games and Entertainment:

Mega Dead Pixel review: Free-falling game a smashing good time – In this iOS game, you play a dead pixel who must “paint” obstacles while falling down the screen. Sounds simple, but Mega Dead Pixel is a challenging game with cool retro graphics and sound.

Riot tells pro League of Legends players they can’t stream competing games – League of Legends developer Riot has unleashed something of a bombshell on the pro-gaming community of streamers. The company operates a competitive e-sports league, the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), that’s about to start its fourth season. Teams participating in the competition have to agree to a contract, and according to portions of the contract leaked to onGamers, those contracts will ban LCS participants from streaming a range of games that compete with League of Legends.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 full-length trailer unveiled – Today the Amazing Spider-Man 2 appears in the first full-length trailer to be shown to the public. What you’ve got here is a glimpse at the full collection of villains our friendly neighborhood web-slinger is set to face off against right alongside teasers for the next generation. This trailer shows so much, you might just want to skip it.

Fatal PS4 robbery attempt highlights dangers of selling online – A man was shot and killed in San Francisco this week after he tried to sell his PlayStation 4 on Craigslist, highlighting the potential dangers of selling goods to strangers online. The victim, 22-year-old Ikenna Uwakah, posted the PS4 for sale on Craigslist and on Instagram. It caught the eye of his alleged killer, 21-year-old Ronnie Collins, who police say lured Uwakah to the park in the city’s Bayview district to make the transaction.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Postscript: Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 – “He was the last of the twentieth century’s national liberators. He became a global symbol of righteousness and reconciliation. He led his beloved, tormented country from the howling darkness of apartheid to the promised land of democracy with shrewdness, courage, and visionary determination. It was a long and difficult trip, both for Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, and for South Africa”

5 Hacking Myths You Probably Believe (Thanks to Movies) – In movies, the word “hacker” is interchangeable with “wizard.” Screenwriters can have a character mutter something about “nodes” or “encryption,” slap the shit out of a keyboard, and acquire godlike powers over the natural world. They figure the average person doesn’t really understand computers, so anyone who can hack one might as well be a mythical creature. Well, this is one of those times when the Hollywood version of a job is somehow even more hilariously off the mark than usual. My name is Caleb Brinkman. I’m a white hat hacker, which means I only hurt websites to make them stronger. Read on and you’ll learn why everything movies and NCIS taught you about hacking is ridiculously wrong …

Self-replicating USB thumbdrives are faster than the internet in the developing world – What is the fastest way to distribute free software? If you said ‘the internet’ you are mistaken, but it’s an understandable error. The internet is only a speedy route if you’ve got a good connection. For much of the world, that’s out of reach. A computer scientist has responded to this by developing a neat self-replicating USB thumbdrive. Here’s the key: plug a second drive into the computer and execute the clone command from the included shortcut, and the software is copied to the other drive, sans any personal information.

BlackBerry turned down Bieber because ‘he’s not going to last – According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the fine Canadian singer offered himself as a brand ambassador to his fellow Canadians for a mere $200,000 and 20 phones. He was rejected.

China Bans Banks From Using Bitcoin – China has banned its banks from using bitcoins as currency in an effort to prevent money laundering and maintain financial stability. The People’s Bank of China and four other government agencies today issued a notice warning the country’s residents of the dangers of using bitcoin.

BofA deems Bitcoin the next big thing – In a new report, the bank says that the virtual currency could ultimately be worth $1,300 per coin and become a “major means of payment for e-commerce.”

Will this robot make America safer? – A Silicon Valley startup has developed a surveillance robot that it says can cut crime by half, but its appearance on streets would be sure to prompt more debate about technology and privacy. The K5 is packed with gadgets: There are several cameras to provide an all-around view day and night, a laser imaging sensor that maps an area in 3D, a thermal imaging system, and facial and license plate recognition systems. An air particle sensor is planned for the future.

Honda builds a ridiculous yet functional airbag for smartphones – The Japanese automaker has posted a video of the Smartphone Case N, which can sense a drop and deploy airbags to cushion a phone’s landing. They may, however, have taken things a little bit too far. But hey, it works. Check out the Honda video from around the 3:16 mark, and you’ll see the Case N deploy its airbags and keep a phone safe following a drop of around five feet.

Something to think about:

if you can’t get what you love

you learn to love the things you’ve got

if you can’t be what you want

you learn to be the things you’re not

if you can’t get what you need

you learn to need the things that stop you dreaming

all the things that stop you dreaming”

–       PassengerThings That Stop You Dreaming

Thanks John.    Smile

Today’s Free Downloads:

Emsisoft Emergency Kit – A collection of programs that can be used without a software installation to scan and clean infected computers for malware – Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner; Emsisoft Commandline Scanner; Emsisoft HiJackFree; Emsisoft BlitzBlank.

Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.

Aomei Partition Assistant 5.5 – Partition Assistant is a comprehensive disk partition solution, which includes a Partition Manager and Extend Partition Wizard for Windows 7/XP/2000/Vista and Server 2008/2003/2000. Besides, the magic partition utility can support all hard disks recognized by Windows such as IDE, SATA, SCSI, Hardware RAID, USB external disks, Fire wire disks etc.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Saving the Net from the surveillance state: Glenn Greenwald speaks up (Q&A) – The man to whom Edward Snowden entrusted his NSA documents isn’t content just to save the Bill of Rights and reinvent journalism. He also wants to stop the Internet from becoming history’s most dangerous spy tool.

Google Pushes White House Petition Demanding The Government Secure A Warrant To Read Your Email – Google is promoting a White House petition calling for reform to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), amending it to require a warrant for the government to read the email of its citizens. In a Google+ post – natch – Google asked its followers if they felt their online missives deserve the same protection as their physical mail. Sign the petition, the company continued, to “tell the government to get a warrant” before reading your email. That the petition exists is not surprising. To see Google publicly promoting it is refreshing. Since Google’s post went live, around 6,000 more people have signed the petition, which is now over halfway to the needed 100,000 signatures.

The NSA scandal has damaged U.S. credibility online – Many U.S. policy makers don’t recognize the level of distrust created by recent revelations about U.S. National Security Agency surveillance, and that lack of trust will drive other countries away from U.S. technology firms, said Andrew McLaughlin, former White House deputy CTO. The NSA surveillance has led to an intense “level of anger and the degree of betrayal” in many countries that U.S. policy makers don’t seem to fully appreciate, he said. And many countries have begun to explore other options beyond U.S. technology companies because of the surveillance revelations, he added. There’s now a perception outside the U.S. that the country’s technology companies “are willing instruments of violation of civil rights and civil liberties,” McLaughlin said. Many countries will move to use domestic technology companies and require citizen data to stay within their borders, he said. “If you’re an American company that sells cloud services, I think you’ve probably sold your last contract to a foreign government,” he said.

Microsoft confirms plans to upgrade encryption for online services – Last week, the Washington Post reported that Microsoft was looking into beefing up the encryption for its online services, in order to prevent government agencies like the NSA from using its data illegally. This week, Microsoft confirmed that it will be upgrading the encryption for services such as, Office 365, SkyDrive and Windows Azure. In a blog post, Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith said that they don’t have any direct evidence that the NSA or other government groups have targeted their online services, but added the company doesn’t want to take any chances. He listed just what Microsoft plans to do to protect its data:

Microsoft likens NSA snooping to hacking by the Chinese government – Microsoft has come out with the harshest criticism by any tech company of National Security Agency (NSA) snooping, and likened it to the kinds of hacking carried out by top teams of hackers backed by the Chinese government. Is the criticism real, or an attempt to divert attention from Microsoft’s past cooperation with intelligence agencies?


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