Monthly Archives: January 2014

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 31, 2014

Security software showdown;  See when recipients open your Gmail attachments;  The top 5 security threats to watch for in 2014;  Part-time love? There’s a dating site for that;  GoDaddy admits it released private info;  NASA shows 60 years of climate change in 15 seconds;  AppLock will keep prying eyes out of your Android applications;  More card-stealing malware found;  NOOOO!! Beer-delivering drone grounded by FAA.

Security software showdown: We test 10 suites against viruses, malware and more – Our security showdown evaluates the 2014 versions of 10 major suites. Most of these programs include social-network protection—scanning spammy-looking links before you click them—and Trend Micro even provides a tool for limiting access to your Facebook, Google+, and Twitter accounts. The new mobile security components in some suites can help you scan downloaded apps for security holes; locate your lost smartphone; and remotely lock, wipe, or ring it.

The top 5 security threats to watch for in 2014 – The year’s barely started, and we’ve already had enough data breaches at major retailers to make a barter economy seem like a good idea. Unfortunately there are yet more security threats to look forward to in 2014. Here are the biggest ones we anticipate.

See when recipients open your Gmail attachments with docTrackr – This Chrome extension lets you encrypt and track Gmail attachments, set permissions for them, and remotely destroy them like an evil villain.

NASA shows 60 years of climate change in 15 seconds – When you put all the data together, it becomes pretty hard to deny that global temperatures are slowly but surely rising. A new video released by NASA shows just over six decades of global temperatures, making it pretty clear that the world is getting warmer. In fact, according to NASA data, 9 of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since the year 2000 (the other was 1998), with the hottest years being 2010 and 2005.

Tips and Apps for Broadcasting Your Life Online – We can’t help you get fans, make compelling content, or get rich. We can’t even suggest a gimmick that helps, like blending electronics. But we can point you to the tools that will make your quest for stardom (or a way to get something off your chest) as simple as possible.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Move your libraries to an external drive without messing things up – It’s easy to understand why people would want to do this. With today’s mobile PCs and the proliferation of SSDs, internal storage capacity is shrinking for the first time since the invention of personal computers. People simply can’t keep all of their music, photos, and videos inside their PCs anymore.

AppLock will keep prying eyes out of your Android applications – The one issue at the top of most mobile users’ minds should be security. We carry around so much precious data, and when it’s lost, trouble often ensues. To that end, Android developers are always searching for new and improved methods to help give your ever-growing mobile world even more ways to secure that data. With AppLock, you can create a specific PIN (or an app-specific PIN) that can then be used to lock down whatever applications you wish to secure. It’s incredibly simple to use.

How do you make a PSA go viral? You blow up some kids – An extraordinary Australian PSA, intended to encourage kids to stay in school, uses shock tactics perhaps never seen before.

Facebook Unveils ‘Paper’ News Reader App – Facebook today introduced Paper—a hybrid mobile reader that combines updates from family and friends with worldwide news. The app will roll out to the iPhone on Feb. 3, offering news junkies a more personal approach than rival newsreaders like Flipboard or Feedly, Facebook said. You can make Paper your own with stories and themed sections based on your interests—not what an algorithm thinks you’ll like.

Straight to the dome: 5 in-ear headphones – We test popular ‘buds from Beats, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Harman Kardon and Shure.

Windows 8.1 update may default to desktop on startup – The latest build for the Windows 8.1 update indicates that devices will boot to the desktop UI by default, according to Wzor.net, which has been leaking screenshots over the past several weeks. This would go beyond the option to bypass the tiled start screen — what used to be referred to as the “Metro” screen. That feature was introduced in Windows 8.1 last year.

Forgotify makes it easy to give never-played Spotify songs a little love – In December, Spotify launched an #undiscovered hashtag campaign to draw attention to the songs in its library that have never been played. With it came a massive discombobulated playlist with lonely audio bits ranging from book readings to comedy snippets, making it a bit overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. Forgotify aims to improve that, making it easy to give these undiscovered songs some love.

SocialRadar: A personal data aggregator in your pocket – SocialRadar, a mobile app launched today for the iPhone, finds people in your social networks who are nearby and then tells you everything you want to know about them — their location, profile data and recent posts from multiple social networks. “There are 1 billion smartphones in the world that are location beacons and there are profiles in the cloud. No one has combined those,” says Michael Chasen, CEO and founder.

Google Glassholes, GET OFF our ROADS, thunder lawmakers in seven US states – Seven US states are looking into banning wearable computers like Google Glass while driving, shortly after a high-profile court case in California where a Glasshole got off scot-free.

Part-time love? There’s a dating site for that – The site, though, insists it caters to “singles looking for regular partners with mutual attraction, genuine friendship, respect and a magical spark but whom have no expectations of moving in after three months and value their free time and independence.” But just in case you think this base, sleazy, or easy, Part Time Love hisses: “We are not a no-strings website.” It’s more of a hanging-by-a-string Web site.

NOOOO!! WHY? Beer-delivering drone grounded by FAA – A Minnesota brewery gets slapped by the Federal Aviation Administration after delivering beer to ice fishermen via a method that’s currently illegal.

Now see this: Linksys adds to video surveillance line – The new cameras are complemented by a network video recorder that can store up to 8 terabytes of video and record up to eight feeds simultaneously.

Security:

Beware of bogus Google “Suspicious sign-in prevented” emails – A very convincing phishing attempt aimed at harvesting users’ Google account credentials has been spotted by a security researcher

The email takes the form of a notice from Google, saying that a suspicious sign-in attempt has been prevented, and urging users to check the account activity. The email is equipped with the Google logo, and comes from a spoofed email address that can trick undiscerning users into believing that it was actually sent by the company.

Yahoo Detects Mass Hack Attempt On Yahoo Mail, Resets All Affected Passwords – The details are a bit sparse right now, but Yahoo has just disclosed by way of their Tumblr that they’ve detected what they’re calling a “coordinated effort to gain unauthorized access to Yahoo Mail accounts”.

Smart Chip Credit Cards Wouldn’t Have Saved Target – The recent Target and Neiman Marcus breaches have left people scrambling for answers to better security solutions. Some tout EMV technology (also called chip-and-pin) as the answer to security woe and even claim that this technology could have prevented these retail breaches from happening. However, security vendor Easy Solutions begs to differ.

More card-stealing malware found – RSA researchers found an operational Tor-based network collecting card data from point of sale (POS) systems in 11 countries including the US.

GoDaddy admits it released private info in @N twitter account hacking case, PayPal denies any fault – Yesterday the case of Naoki Hiroshima and the hack that resulted in his @N twitter account being extorted out of his control by a hacker came to light. Hiroshima outlines the entire case and offered details that the hacker gave him on how he was able to gain control of the GoDaddy account used to extort control of the twitter account from the rightful owner.

Company News:

Report: Satya Nadella to be named Microsoft CEO; Gates out, too – Microsoft’s board is “preparing to name” Nadella chief executive, Bloomberg reported Thursday afternoon. Nadella, whose official title is executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group, had been one of the front-runners in the race to replace current chief executive Steve Ballmer, who said last August that he planned to step down within a year.

Google has another privacy snafu, is fined in South Korea – Google has been bumping into pockets of privacy violations across the globe recently, the latest of which has taken place in South Korea. This follows a recent issue in Canada, which arose from issues with advertisements and was resolved with an agreement, and a bigger issue in France that surfaced last year and culminated in a big (except for Google) fine.

Amazon Sheds 10% In After-Hours Trading, Erasing $19B In Market Cap – After reporting both a top and bottom miss, Amazon fell 10.32 percent in after-hours trading. The company had ended the day at $403.01 and is now trading at $361.41. As a company, Amazon is valued by investors on the strength or weakness of its revenue growth. Amazon’s current share count is 457.73 million. At a per-share loss of $41.60 so far today, Amazon has lost around $19 billion…

Report: Samsung Agrees to Pull Back on Android Customization – In an effort to reconcile their visions for Android, Samsung and Google have reportedly been hammering out a deal whereby Samsung would more prominently feature Google’s suite of apps on its mobile devices.

Lenovo’s U.S. tech buys to get strict security review – Beijing-based Lenovo Group’s plan to buy Google’s Motorola Mobility unit and an IBM server division for a combined $5.2 billion will likely face strict and lengthy security scrutiny by the U.S. government.

5 Reasons Why Google Sold Motorola, and 5 Reasons Why Lenovo Bought It – Google sold the remnant of Motorola’s mobile phone operations to Lenovo yesterday, getting the world’s dominant mobile OS company out of the business of making mobile phones. This is a good move for Google and a good move for Lenovo, although it may not be a good move for consumers. Here’s why Google and Lenovo are both walking away from the deal happy.

Games and Entertainment:

Snow is for suckers: Play these winter sports games on Android – It is really cold out there. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take part in seasonal pastimes from the heated comfort of your living room. Below we present some of the best mobile winter sports games available for your Android phone or tablet. Now you can enjoy the winter without all that winter getting in the way!

Dark Souls II preview: I died 8 times in an hour and loved it – Dark Souls plays like an action game, but it’s essentially a gigantic puzzle box where the solutions happen to be swords, arrows, and spears instead of Sudoku boxes.

Microsoft Stores offer $100 Xbox One discount if you trade in a PS3 – From now until March 2, Microsoft Stores will offer you $100 of store credit if you trade in a PS3, Xbox 360 S, or Xbox 360 E. Of course, there’s a number of terms and conditions in order to get that $100. The console must be in fully working order and have its original accessories including the power supply. You will also only be guaranteed to get $100 for your old machine if you agree to purchase an Xbox One at the same time.

Halo 5 release tipped for November 2015, “beta” this winter – One massive amount of insider knowledge on the Xbox One – and Halo specifically – has been dropped over the past several hours, some of it involving hardware, some of it coming in on the software side of things. What we’re going to do here is break it all down as simple as possible, and what you’re going to need to do is take it all with a grain of salt. The source does appear legitimate, but there’s always the chance of a break in the chain of trust.

Nintendo considering customer rewards program with game discounts – Nintendo has not divulged many details regarding this strategy — as the company is only mulling the idea over at the moment. However, the strategy won’t turn the sales of the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS around, and it won’t draw in new customers — it’ll only keep a portion of Nintendo’s already loyal fan base happy. This, of course, isn’t a bad move, as those loyal customers are the only ones keeping Nintendo afloat, and the company would be in even more dire straits if it couldn’t rely on that loyalty.

Sony PS Vita Slim Headed for the U.K. Feb. 7 – Sporting Wi-Fi capabilities and a 1GB internal memory card, the thinner and lighter model is already available in Japan in multiple colors; only the black model will be available in the U.K. The handheld features a 5-inch LCD screen, meant to boost battery life, in place of the original Vita’s OLED screen.

Bye-Zynga: online games maker laying off 314 staff – Mobile game specialist Zynga has announced that it will be laying off some 15 per cent of its staff as part of a cost-cutting measure. The company said that the cuts would make 314 people at the company redundant. The lowered payroll costs would be part of a plan by the company to same some $33-35m over the course of the 2014 calendar year. Zynga said that it expects to rack up some $15-17m in restructuring charges from the move.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 years from now it’s Google’s world: we’ll just be living in it – I don’t have a crystal ball, so it’s hard for me to see into the future like some. But the writing appears to be on the wall in the technology industry: Google, the company that made a name for itself in search, will go on to become the most influential and important company in the world within the next decade. Moreover, the company’s efforts will turn us all into citizens of a world we’ll call Google.

YouTube has spoken: Horse-loving puppy wins Super Bowl – Many, many people have stared teary-eyed at a puppy who loves a Clydesdale. At least that’s what 19 million YouTube views suggest.

(Credit: Budweiser/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

11 high school students expelled for keylogging teachers’ computers – A hacking scandal involving keyloggers and electronic grade-changing at a high school in Newport Beach, a well-to-do area of Southern California, has resulted in the expulsion of 11 students. The Orange County Register reported Wednesday that six of those students had already left the district, but five had been transferred to another local school.

Blogging deemed beneath the hallowed halls of academia – After the International Studies Association proposes a ban on blogging for editors of its journals, faculty groups raise their swords.

Big, street-legal Little Tikes car is your childhood on steroids – The classic Cozy Coupe kiddie car gets reborn as a working, full-size car, complete with no windshield.

A Skype exorcism: The modern way to rid yourself of demons – Reverend Bob Larson, an Arizona priest, believes in using technology to get rid of unwanted evil.

(Credit: CNN/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

Kids Weigh In On Five Obsolete Technologies – What do kids make of the actual storage media and communication devices of yore?

Something to think about:

An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.”

–        Anatole France

or

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

–         Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

PhoneClean 3.2.1 – PhoneClean is uniquely designed to reclaim more free space on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and make all iOS devices run faster. Working on both PC and Mac, this free-yet-magic tool will safely remove all kinds of useless files on iOS system in order to clean up and speed up your iDevices.

ColorConsole 2.24MajorGeek Says: ColorConsole quite simply does exactly what it says; allows you to use cmd.exe (DOS prompt) with colors and adds additional features. Great for someone with issues reading the screen but also adds a lot of features that are more difficult with cmd.exe, for example copy, paste and cut, tabs and easy export. Application is portable so you can simply extract it anywhere, like your desktop and use it when you want as a DOS prompt replacement.

WiFi Password Decryptor 3.0 – It automatically recovers all type of Wireless Keys/Passwords (WEP/WPA/WPA2 etc) stored by Windows Wireless Configuration Manager. For each recovered WiFi account, it displays following information – WiFi Name (SSID) – Security Settings (WEP-64/WEP-128/WPA2/AES/TKIP) – Password Type – Password in clear text.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Cameron: UK public is fine with domestic spying – Speaking to Parliament on the government’s National Security Strategy, the Prime Minister said that while the media has made a stink about Edward Snowden’s disclosures on domestic spying and data mining programs, the general public is largely in favor of the government. “My sense is that the pub reaction, as opposed to some of the media reaction is ‘look, we have intelligence and security because it is a dangerous world and there are bad people that want to do terrible things to us, and we should support these intelligence services and the work they do,” Cameron told Parliament.

Snowden: Canadian spooks used free airport WiFi to track travellers – Another day, another item of news about unwarranted state surveillance from the desk of one E. Snowden, late of Moscow. This time the allegation is that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) slurped information about the owners of wireless devices from the free WiFi service in one of the nation’s airports. With that data in hand, the agency is said to have then tracked travellers for “days” after they left the airport. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has the story and says it comes from “A top secret document retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and obtained by CBC News”. Snowden’s documents apparently say anyone that passed through an airport could be tracked, although it is not clear if login to the free WiFi service was required. Logging in wouldn’t necessarily be required to track someone: a device set to detect the presence of WiFi networks is likely to reveal its MAC address. If spooks sniffed WiFi routers for MAC addresses of connecting devices, then looked for that MAC address popping up elsewhere, they could easily plot a device’s movement.

How to stop the NSA? Start with new bills at each statehouse, activists say – State lawmakers nationwide have decided that they’re not going to wait for Congress to rein in the powers of the National Security Agency and the American surveillance state. Instead, they’ve proposed bills that would limit cooperation by state officials or slow the distribution of state resources—like turning off the NSA’s access to local Utah water. But even legal experts who might want some of these changes admit that states’ abilities to make an end-run around federal law is merely symbolic at best. At worst, it’s perhaps illegal.

US government names new head of NSA and US Cyber Command – The Secretary of Defense has appointed new leadership for the NSA, the Central Security Service, and the US Cyber Command, with Vice Admiral Michael Rogers as the new boss and Richard Ledgett as his civilian deputy. Vice Admiral Rogers is currently head of the US Navy’s 10th Fleet, which in the Second World War handled anti-submarine operations before being shut down. It was reactivated in 2010 to deal with the Navy’s cryptography and cyber warfare operations. Rogers, a Chicago native, joined the Navy in 1981. Five years later he was seconded to cryptographic operations and has worked in communications and online warfare ever since, in some cases carrying out “direct support missions” from ships and submarines in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean.

NSA Sees “Grave Damage” to National Security If Draft Talking Points on Surveillance Released – The National Security Agency appears to have spent a lot of time trying to agree on a set of talking points agency officials could use to respond to revelations that originated with Edward Snowden about the lawfulness of the agency’s classified surveillance programs. (suggested by Aseem S.)

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 30, 2014

10 ways to maximize the business value of Google+;  Google’s Roadmap to World Domination – infographic;  Filthy words Google voice search doesn’t want to hear;  4 Ways to Maximize Your Super Bowl Watching Experience;  Has a jealous lover hired hackers to get into your e-mail?  Snowden Nobel Peace Prize nomination;  Merkel rebukes US, UK over surveillance;  The easiest way to install Android apps on BB10;  Google’s Street View lands in the Philippines;  Google Chrome Launches Virtual LEGO Land;  Kickstarter – ABCs of the Web.

Feds imply that reporters are in cahoots with Snowden – During Senate testimony, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper refers to whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s “accomplices.”

Merkel rebukes US, UK over surveillance – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has issued a strong rebuke to the United States and Britain over the sweeping digital spying revealed by fugitive IT contractor Edward Snowden. (Rebuking? How about you kick these asshats in the knackers – financially.)

Grassroots campaign seeks to fry the NSA by turning off the water tap – It takes a lot of water to cool the spy agency’s supercomputers, plus a lot of electricity. Two 4th Amendment-focused nonprofits are putting forth a template for a bill that would enable US states to turn off the lights and the taps and thereby, basically, starve the agency of the juice it needs to run.

4 Ways to Maximize Your Super Bowl Watching Experience: We’ve got the tech to help you stay on top of the action – This Sunday, the Denver Broncos will face off against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII — and football fans across the globe will be watching. Even if you aren’t a fan, it’s likely you’ll want to tune in for the commercials and the halftime show featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. No matter what brings you to the screen for this year’s Super Bowl, we’ve got the tech to help you stay on top of the action.

Great smartphone games to get ready for ‘the big game’ – In gearing up for the big game this Sunday, I’ve put together a collection of football games for both iOS and Android.

Dell’s $129 Dongle Puts Android On Any Screen With HDMI Input – Dell continues making bets on Android in its computing lineup with a new $129 device that brings Google’s mobile OS to any TV or display with HDMI input. The new stick runs Android Jelly Bean, also supports MHL connections (mobile high-def) and offers Bluetooth and mini USB for mouse, keyboard and other device connectivity.

10 ways to maximize the business value of Google+ – Google+ offers a more focused, serious take on social networking — and it can give your business a significant boost if you use it the right way.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google’s Roadmap to World Domination: infographic – Welcome to the future where your house keys will tell you they’re still on your desk at work; Your tools will remind you you loaned them to a friend; Your car will drive itself to retrieve both…. (A really neat presentation.)

These are the filthy words Google voice search doesn’t want to hear – By default, Google blocks voice search results that it deems offensive. Presumably, its motive has less to do with keeping you from cussin’ than with shielding users from questionable content in the event that Google’s software misunderstands their spoken request for “pictures of shih tzus,” “chicken plucking contest,” or “How can I get to Bangkok?” What could possibly go wrong, you ask? Just think of Google voice search as a spoken-word equivalent of autocorrect.

The easiest way to install Android apps on BB10 – After the latest update to BlackBerry 10, users can install Android apps with very little effort.

Kickstarter – ABCs of the Web – ABCs of the Web is a child’s first introduction to the language of the web using the ABCs, beautiful imagery, and fun rhymes. Written by a Web Developer and a Pediatrician, this book introduces children under 5 to the vocabulary of programming in a developmentally appropriate way. ABCs of the Web is a great primer to get you and your kids ready for awesome books like A Robot Story and Hello Ruby, board games like Robot Turtles and apps like Scratch Jr.

Coding as a second language? Kentucky jockeys to be next to join the movement – New legislation in Kentucky may soon allow computer programming to count as a high school foreign language credit.

Students around the world participated in Code.org’s “Hour of Code” in December 2013. Image: Code.org

Coveted $50,000 Twitter username swiped in tale of woe – Naoki Hiroshima talks of how security practices at PayPal and GoDaddy led to him losing his coveted Twitter handle.

Process Explorer v16.0 – Thanks to collaboration with the team at VirusTotal, this Process Explorer update introduces integration with VirusTotal.com, an online antivirus analysis service. When enabled, Process Explorer sends the hashes of images and files shown in the process and DLL views to VirusTotal and if they have been previously scanned, reports how many antivirus engines identified them as possibly malicious. Hyperlinked results take you to VirusTotal.com report pages and you can even submit files for scanning. (recommended by Aseem S.)

Has a jealous lover hired hackers to get into your e-mail? Two Arkansas men face charges for allegedly running a business that helps the suspicious but loving pry into their partner’s e-mails.

Toronto Police constable admits to harassing ex-boyfriend – A police constable who harassed her ex-boyfriend and his wife for a year through Facebook and used police databases while on- and off-duty may lose about seven weeks’ pay after pleading guilty Tuesday to three Police Services Act charges. Const. Dionne Kent faced two charges of insubordination and one for discreditable conduct, for offenses that took place between December 2011 and December 2012. (So where are the criminal charges here? Oh right, Toronto cops seem to be immune to a fair and unbiased application of the criminal code.)

Google’s Street View lands in the Philippines – Web giant uses backpack-attached Street View Trekker camera to capture 360-degree images from within Manila’s walled city of Intramuros.

How to make your gloves touchscreen capable – Add smartphone-friendly fingers to your favorite gloves, and you’ll never have to take them off. Take that, Polar Vortex!

Google Chrome Launches Virtual LEGO Land: Yes, it’s addictive – Google and LEGO have launched an insidious plot, er, app that lets users play with virtual LEGO bricks in their web browsers during work hours while deadlines are rapidly approaching. Google unveiled the productivity-sapping feature, “Build With Chrome,” on Tuesday. Users can stack, rotate and snap a variety of bricks onto a virtual pad, powered by WebGL, a 3D graphics technology for web browsers.

Resolving TrueCrypt and Volume Shadow Copy conflicts – TrueCrypt is a great open source encryption solution to protect data, but it can lock horns with the Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service. Learn how to untangle the two products.

UK Government plans to ditch Microsoft Office, move to open-source solutions – The UK Government plans to end its reliance on proprietary software such as Microsoft Office in favour of solutions like Google Docs, in a move intended to save money and foster greater innovation.

Raising Alzheimer’s awareness through Facebook confusion – A recent campaign to increase awareness of the most common form of dementia put people in photos of fake events, possibly giving them a momentary sense of what the disease might feel like.

Blizzard releases first-ever Warcraft infographic – Blizzard releases an infographic detailing never-before-seen global statistics for its enormous MMORPG World of Warcraft, which turns 10 this year. Guess which pet is the most popular.

India to hit 243 million Web users – India will be home to over 243 million online users by June 2014, up 28 percent year-on-year from 190 million last June, driving growth in other markets such as e-commerce and digital advertising.

Get ready for multicolor fonts — maybe in motion, too – Impelled by a need to support emoji characters, Mozilla, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google are working to standardize technology for showing fonts that aren’t just black and white.

How to make LPs sound better than ever – Turntable phono cartridges’ miniscule voltage output needs high quality amplification, NAD’s nifty little PP2i will transform your analog sound.

Security:

Remote code execution bug in Yahoo servers leads to root access – Yahoo has moved quickly to squash a bug that could have seen an attacker gain root access to its servers.

Angry Birds website defaced following reports it enables government spying – For a brief span of time on Tuesday some visitors saw an image of the iconic bird and pig, but with some notable modifications. The image carried the caption “Spying Birds,” and the bird had an NSA logo emblazoned on its forehead. The image was captured here on the Zone-H website.

U.S. Justice Dept Joins The Target Credit Card Data Breach Investigation – The investigation behind Target’s data breach, which affected 40 million customers and is one of the largest hacking incidents in retail history, just intensified. The U.S. Justice Department has joined the hunt for the perpetrator, which already includes the FBI and the Secret Service, which usually oversees the federal government’s credit card fraud cases.

Target says attackers stole vendor credentials – Target said Wednesday that intruders accessed its systems by using credentials “stolen” from a vendor, one of the first details the retailer has revealed about how hackers got inside. As the forensic investigation continues, the spokeswoman said Target has taken measures to secure its network, such as updating access controls and in some cases, limiting access to its platforms.

Spy agencies are slurping personal data from leaky mobile apps – Beyond device details, data shared over the internet by iOS and Android apps can include personal information such as age, gender, and location, while some apps share even more sensitive user information, such as sexual preference.

Company News:

Facebook Trades North Of $60 For The First Time – In after-hours trading today, investors rewarded Facebook with a rising share price after it reported stronger than expected revenue. The company reported that it earned $0.31 per share, and had revenue in the quarter of $2.59 billion. As reported earlier, the analyst set had predicted that Facebook would earn $0.27 on revenue of $2.33 billion.

Microsoft faces new brand dispute over OneDrive name – Microsoft faces a fresh trademark dispute over its OneDrive brand, as cloud provider One.com tells Neowin that the name could “lead to confusion” and that it is “consulting trademark experts”.

Google Keeps ‘Vast Majority’ Of Motorola Mobility Patents In Sale To Lenovo – Motorola Mobility is being sold to Lenovo, in a deal worth $2.91B. Google is divesting itself of the handset division it purchased for $12.5B in 2011, but it will keep some of the assets — including patents.

Twitter plans to roll out search filters for news, video and more – Following an announcement earlier today that it has partnered with both Dataminr and CNN, Twitter sent out a tweet revealing a work-in-progress on new search filters. Once available, users will be able to filter their searches using multiple parameters, such as people and news, to get the best results.

Games and Entertainment:

8 Minutes of Ridiculously Beautiful The Elder Scrolls Online Cinematic Footage – I’m cringing watching this easily Blizzard- or Square Enix-worthy new trailer for Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls Online. Not because it’s bad — it’s a deftly rendered slice of CGI. But it must have cost a fortune. It makes me want to say “Spend the money on knocking the game out of the park, please, not the frippery, Bethesda.” But oh what frippery.

Hands-on: Steam’s streaming beta already feels like magic – You too could play Assassin’s Creed IV on an 8-year-old MacBook with integrated graphics, thanks to the power of the stream.

GTA V PC pre-orders expected to start on Friday – To say there’s a desire for Rockstar to release GTA V for the PC is a bit of an understatement. The game has had glowing reviews on the PS3 and Xbox 360, and there’s many a PC gamer who wants to have the chance to play it on their rig and at a much higher level of detail than current-gen consoles can achieve. We expect Rockstar will eventually announce the game for PC, but we don’t know when. However, we’re now hearing that pre-orders for the game on PC are expected to start this coming Friday.

Xbox One 2014 plans reportedly leak, white and cheaper models inbound – A user over on Neogaf has been dishing out an incredible amount of detail about what Microsoft’s Xbox One plans include and while we can’t verify the information, it is reported to be accurate.

Dead Trigger 2 Update Adds European Missions and Video Sharing on iDevices – The Dead Trigger franchise is one of the best places to go for zombie shooting on the go. Dead Trigger 2 has managed to attract a huge number of players, and today they are getting a big update to version 0.4.0. It brings gameplay tweaks, new guns, and a new video sharing feature for some devices.

2014 Super Bowl commercials: The teasers have landed – If you are getting ready to watch the Super Bowl you have a few more days to go, but if it’s just commercials you want, you can get started watching right now. While I’m sure there’s a lot to be excited about for this year’s big game, the commercials are the highlight of the evening for many of us.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The long-term effects of ugly political discussions on Facebook – Political discussions on Facebook are, in fact, undermining both people’s relationships and use of the website. A new study from researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that users who try to talk about politics on Facebook are often surprised by the political opinions of their acquaintances. And researchers say that a diverse set of opinions among a user’s friends makes everyone want to speak up less.

Toshiba’s hilarious new ad series demonstrates extreme, absurd product testing – Toshiba decided to show off their new laptops and tablets with a series of tests that go above and beyond what “the nerds back at the office” say their devices are capable of handling. The resulting ad campaign is amusing not just because of the abuse, but because Toshiba isn’t afraid to occasionally show that their hardware can fail in these obviously extreme scenarios.

Cold-weather testing for the Airbus A350 (pictures) – Making sure the new energy-efficient jet works fine at minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit, the French aircraft maker takes its A350 to northern Canada. Here’s a look at the testing.

Collectively, humanity’s genomes carry a fifth of a Neanderthal – The completion of a Neanderthal genome showed that there was a very clear signal of Neanderthal DNA in all non-African populations of modern humans, demonstrating that the two populations had interbred during the latter’s migration into Eurasia. But a statistical signal doesn’t really tell you what’s there. Do all humans carry the same few pieces of Neanderthal DNA, suggesting it has been contributing to our fitness? Or have bits of Neanderthal been scattered through the human genome, kept around by little more than random drift?

Deport Bieber petition succeeds — earns votes for White House response – The petition asking the White House to deport Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber has been wildly successful, taking just six days to collect the 100,000 online signatures needed to earn a presidential response. Hours after the petition crossed the signature threshold in the U.S., Mr. Bieber, 19, turned himself in to police in Toronto to answer assault charges stemming from an incident last month. (suggested by Michael F.)

NASA sued for not investigating a Mars rock thoroughly enough – The lawsuit targets NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and demands that NASA perform more extensive testing on the rock, as Joseph claims the rock was clearly spawned from spores, rather than simply knocked over into the pathway either via meteorite or the rover itself. Basically, Joseph is claiming that the substance that caused the rock to exist was there the whole time, and the rock eventually grew large enough for the rover to notice.

Something to think about:

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.”

–     Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

Simple Port Tester Portable 3.0.0 – Simple Port Tester is a free program by PcWinTech.com to help users test if their ports are open with just a few clicks. The trick with testing if your port forwarding is working is to have something on your computer actually listening on the port. If nothing is listening on the port the test will fail no matter what. This program will open the port, listen for the connection and help ensure a proper and reliable test as to whether or not your port forwarding is working. Download and run it. Put in the port you wish to test and hit begin, that’s it! The program now tests both TCP & UDP ports.

LibreOffice – LibreOffice is the free power-packed open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. LibreOffice is one of the friendliest and fastest growing projects in the free and open source software world. We commit ourselves to produce truly great and free software.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Senator pushes for an end to NSA phone records program – Senator Patrick Leahy questioned how the Constitution allows the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of U.S. telephone records and repeated his calls for President Barack Obama’s administration to end the program during a hearing Wednesday. The Obama administration should heed the recent advice of the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) and end the phone records collection program, said Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. “Is there anything in the U.S. Constitution that gives authority to the Congress to pass a law that enables and empowers an executive agency such as the NSA … to open, to listen or to seize either the mail, the phone conversations or the electronic conversations of U.S. citizens?” asked Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Clapper: Snowden and media “accomplices” should return our documents – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper isn’t the most popular guy in Washington these days. Support for reforming bulk surveillance continues to grow. More lawmakers are becoming convinced of the point of view of US Senator Ron Wyden: that Clapper lied to Congress when he denied that “any type of data at all” was being collected “on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” On Monday, Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) and five other lawmakers sent a letter to President Obama saying Clapper should be fired. It’s unlikely that Clapper’s comments today at a hearing of the US Senate Intelligence Committee will quiet things down at all. Clapper reiterated his position that the leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden are continuing to cause “profound damage” to the US security.

Lavabit appeals contempt of court ruling surrounding handover of SSL keys – Lavabit, a now-defunct private email service, has appealed against a contempt of court ruling centred around the company not handing over unencrypted data of one of its users – widely believed to be Edward Snowden.

Snowden Nobel Peace Prize nomination up for “stable and peaceful world order” – This week it’s been made clear that two members of Norway’s Socialist Left Party intend on adding Edward Snowden to their shortlist for possible recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize – nominating him, that is. While the nomination certainly makes sense given the aim of award itself, critics on both sides have begun to set in for this NSA leakster, gainer of one massive amount of publicity over these past 12 months.

In rare move, terrorism suspect challenges core of warrantless snooping law – An Uzbek man in Colorado is the first person to challenge warrantless collection of specific evidence in a criminal case against him. The Supreme Court effectively shut down less-specific petitions last year. The US government argues such data collection is authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act.

German government faces legal action over NSA spying – The German government and the German Federal Intelligence Service are facing legal action because they allegedly aided the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) data collection program. “We will send the legal action to the authorities next Monday,” said Constanze Kurz, a German computer scientist and spokeswoman for the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), in an email on Wednesday. “There are several persons as well as organizations which are suing our government and other named persons in charge,” she said, adding that one of them is the International League for Human Rights, a German section of the International Federation for Human Rights.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 30, 2014

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 29, 2014

10 cool Android apps to start the year;  Was Your Account Hacked? How to Find Out;  How to find out if someone has been snooping in your Gmail;  5 alternatives for remote PC access;  Pebble Steel: The smartwatch worth wearing;  Get your TV (and other devices) football-ready;  Cop Watch Toronto;  Schedule Email to Be Sent Later with Gmail;  Facebook Connect flaws can’t or won’t be fixed;  Defend Your Website Against Content Thieves;  Google Chrome Now Lets You Play With LEGO.

Was Your Account Hacked? How to Find Out – News of credit card hacks and other data breaches have made headlines on an almost daily basis lately. With so many attacks at major national chains, from Target to Neiman Marcus to Michaels, affecting millions of customers, it’s very possible that your credit card has been compromised. So what should you do if you are worried that your credit card might have been compromised, and how do you keep yourself safe going forward?

How to find out if someone has been snooping in your Gmail – Your Gmail account probably contains some sensitive information—emails from your friends and family members, information about accounts for other services, candid pictures, you name it. What if someone else has been poking around in there? Fortunately, Google gives you the tools necessary to find out.

Get your TV (and other devices) football-ready – With the annual Big Game coming up, now’s the time to make sure your TV is set up perfectly. Here are CNET’s best tips for making sure your living room is ready for some football.

Super Bowl to block live stream watching to make way for tweets and posts – In every large gathering or event today, you’ll see crowds of people holding up their smartphones or tablets to snap up the experience and share it with the world. To help make that new behavior as painless as possible, the NFL has decided ahead of time that it will prevent people inside the stadium from watching live video streams during the Super Bowl XLVIII match between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.

10 cool Android apps to start the year – There are so many apps in the Google Play store it can be hard finding those useful gems. We’ve done the work for you.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Cop Watch Toronto – The Cop Watch Toronto app provides the easiest way to create and upload videos about police-citizen interactions. Settings are available to have the app begin recording as soon as it is launched, and to upload video to YouTube automatically. The app also provides some handy reference material concerning your right to shoot these videos. (Far too many police forces, Toronto cops are among the most brazen, have little or no regard for civil liberties. Every encounter you have with a cop should be recorded for your own protection.)

5 alternatives to LogMeIn Free for remote PC access – LogMeIn Free is gone, but don’t panic: You can find alternative remote-access tools that cost the same low price of nothing at all. Whether you need to access a document, collaborate with a colleague, or support several PCs, try one of these free tools to get back into the game.

HomeHero Launches To Help Families Find, Hire, And Manage In-Home Care For Seniors – Backed by L.A.-based incubator and studio, Science, Inc., HomeHero is launching today on a mission to build a layer of trust in the senior care market and help families reduce the headache inherent to finding, hiring and managing in-home care for seniors. After struggling to find quality, affordable care for their elderly grandparents, Kyle Hill and Mike Townsend began building HomeHero last year to help alleviate some of the stress that many families experience when trying to find care for aging loved ones.

After bug, Google notifies users that all is a-OK with Gmail – A glitch that caused some e-mails to be marked as spam and others to be deleted is fixed — but the Web giant says users should make sure their messages are in the right place.

Create your own YouTube radio with Streamus – There is no shortage of Internet radio services. From freeware like Pandora and Rdio to premium services like Spotify and Google Music, you can listen to all the songs you want, when you want them. Streamus allows you to search for songs by tapping into the world’s largest music database, YouTube.

Supercharge Gmail with these 3 simple, stellar Gmail Labs features – Gmail Labs features represent the cutting edge of email functionality, and can help you Get Things Done even faster. Here’s three to try today.

How to Schedule Email to Be Sent Later with Gmail – If you’re using Gmail, the Boomerang extension will not only allow you to schedule messages to be sent sometime in the future, but you can also use it to temporarily clear messages out of your inbox until you’re ready to deal with them.

Wearable book lets readers feel the fiction – A project out of MIT called Sensory Fiction relays characters’ emotions through networked sensors and actuators worn by the reader. Will future books be yet another wearable technology?

Shapify adds a new dimension to selfies with 3D printing – Shapify has ushered in the new era of the selfie, making it simple for interested folks to have their own 3D-printed self for perching on a desk or as the coolest action figure ever. The service allows those with a Kinect sensor to snap a couple of selfies, upload them, and get a 3D-printed replica in the mail a short while later.

Blocking torrent sites ‘ineffective’: Pirate Bay ban lifted for Dutch ISPs – Two ISPs in The Netherlands have overturned a court order that forced them to block access to BitTorrent search engine the Pirate Bay. Internet providers in the Euro nation were told by a district judge in 2012 to seal off the website from their customers, at the request of anti-piracy campaigners. Two ISPs Ziggo and XS4All took the case to the Court of Appeals in The Hague – which yesterday ruled in their favor and reversed the banning order.

Two-thirds of Americans surf the Web at less than 10Mbps – Despite Internet speed improvements in nearly every state, most US residents are still surfing the Web at less than 10Mbps, according to Akamai’s latest State of the Internet Report. Drawing data from Akamai’s globally distributed network of servers, the report covering Q3 2013 put the US in 9th place worldwide in the proportion of residents with “high broadband,” or at least 10Mbps average download speeds.

Brace yourself for flood of new domain names – The Internet is about to get a lot busier and more cluttered. The Internet addresses that we are accustomed to using — .com, .net and .edu – will be getting a lot of company next week.

Defend Your Website Against Content Thieves – Say you’re an online purveyor of used electronics. Your business depends on that guy who wants a used iPad finding your great prices. But you wouldn’t be so happy if a competitor captured your entire price list in order to beat your prices by just enough. How can you allow full access for users while preventing wholesale scraping of your content? Well, you could use ScrapeDefender, a cloud-based anti-scraping solution that released today. I talked with Robert Kane, ScrapeDefender’s CEO, about just how the product works.

Pebble Steel: The smartwatch worth wearing – Equal parts fashionable and functional, the Pebble Steel leaps to the top of the smartwatch heap.

Evernote upgrades make sync four times faster – Evernote has completed upgrades to its servers, making synchronization four times faster for users — with more improvements to come.

Too Cold? These 5 Phones Work With Gloves – It’s freezing out there. If you buy one of these five phones, you won’t need to take your gloves off to use it.

Security:

VPN bypass vulnerability affects Android Jelly Bean and KitKat – A vulnerability in Android allows malicious applications to bypass an active VPN (virtual private network) connection and force traffic from the device through an attacker-controlled system where it can be intercepted, according to security researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. Researchers from the university’s Cyber Security Labs initially reported Jan. 17 that the vulnerability affects Android 4.3, known as Jelly Bean. However, upon further investigation they were also able to reproduce it on Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest major version of the mobile OS.

Fully functional trojanized FileZilla client steals FTP logins – Trojanized versions of the hugely popular FileZilla FTP client are being offered to unsuspecting users via hacked websites with fake content. “Malware installer GUI is almost identical to the official version. The only slight difference is version of NullSoft installer where malware uses 2.46.3-Unicode and the official installer uses v2.45-Unicode. All other elements like texts, buttons, icons and images are the same,” Avast researchers warn.

The malware records, encodes and sends FTP login credentials to the criminals’ server hosted in Germany, the domains on which are registered with Naunet.ru, a Russian domain registrar known for malware and spam activity.

Facebook Connect flaws can’t or won’t be fixed: researcher – User information could be up for grabs, as well as the potential to allow attackers to control services linked to Facebook via its Connect feature.

Spot a phishing e-mail in 2014 – Has your account been compromised? Have you recently won a contest? Chances are good a hacker is trying to reel you in.

Hacker will become the first charged under India’s cyber security laws – Amit Vikram Tiwari will be the first person to be charged under India’s cyber security laws. The man is accused of operating a hacking service where bank and email details were breached for a fee.

Angry Birds maker Rovio: We don’t share data with NSA – The company did say, however, that it might need to revisit its relationships with third-party ad networks if their services are being used for spying.

Company News:

Google infringed patents, must pay 1.36 percent of AdWords revenue – Vringo is a tiny company that purchased some patents from Lycos, an old search engine, in 2011 and then used those patents to sue Google. In December 2012, Vringo won $30 million in a jury trial, but that was far less than the hundreds of millions it was seeking. Today, Vringo got the payout it was looking for: a 1.36 percent running royalty on US-based revenue from AdWords, Google’s flagship program.

Walmart Begins Testing Online Grocery Shopping With Local Store Pickup Option In Denver – Walmart To Go, the retailer’s on-demand shopping service offering home delivery of general merchandise, including in some cases, groceries, is expanding its test in the Denver market today to also include a local pick-up option. Denver area customers will now be able to order their groceries online, then pick up at a nearby store – without having to set foot inside the store.

Yahoo reports another sales decline as ads sag – Since Marissa Mayer took the helm as CEO in 2012, she has aimed to make Yahoo cool again with a string of redesigns, acquisitions and some high-profile hires like TV personality Katie Couric. Some of those moves, like Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr, may have netted the company more users and more developer talent, but not yet an upswing in advertising sales.

American Megatrends Launches New StorTrends 3500i SSD Array – American Megatrends Inc. (AMI) today announced the release of its StorTrends 3500i SSD Array, the first and only storage area network (SAN) to combine solid state drive (SSD) caching and SSD tiering into a single storage appliance. Optimized to support VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix and RHEV enterprises of all sizes, the StorTrends 3500i is available as a hybrid or full flash array and delivers dramatic enterprise performance and reliability at an extremely affordable price point.

ManageEngine Debuts Cisco AVC Monitoring, iPad App, Network Security Fortifications – ManageEngine today announced a suite of upgrades that are immediately available for key applications. NetFlow Analyzer, the real-time traffic and security analytics software, adds Cisco Application Visibility and Control (AVC) monitoring. OpManager, the company’s data center management software for large enterprises, gains an iPad app. DeviceExpert, the web–based, multi-vendor network change and configuration management solution, now supports security information and event management (SIEM) integration. ManageEngine will be demonstrating the applications’ new features at Cisco Live, January 27-31, 2014, in Milan, Italy.

T-Mobile raises anti-AT&T attacks to bizarre levels – T-Mobile has cranked up its offensive against AT&T, issuing a bizarrely tongue-in-cheek press release fabricating quotes from AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega as it snipes at its rival’s $450 “buy back” campaign to get former subscribers to return. The release, published as AT&T announced its Q4 2013 financial results, credits its own “Uncarrier” movement as motivating AT&T to offer to pay customers if they come back from their T-Mobile contacts.

AMD’s first ARM processor is 8-core and 64-bit – AMD is turning to the ARM design for a new series of chips, an unmistakable sign that the heyday of “x86” chips is over.

Opera’s app store clears 100 million monthly users – After the 2011 acquisition of app-store specialist Handster, the Norwegian browser maker has enough visitors to rank its Opera Mobile Store as the fifth-largest app store, the company says.

Games and Entertainment:

Google Chrome Now Lets You Play With LEGO In The Browser – This is a pretty obvious movie tie-in, but it’s still pretty cool: Google has partnered with LEGO to build an app that lets you play with LEGOs right in the browser. Using WebGL and other modern web technologies, a Google team in Australia first developed this application as an experiment in 2012 and now Google is opening it up to everybody.

11 PC games that are just as fun to watch as to play – Since the early days of arcade hits like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, people have enjoyed watching electronic games over players’ shoulders. Now that we have Twitch and YouTube “Let’s Plays,” anyone can cast a game to the Web, and anyone can watch them play. So if you’d like to spend some time gaming vicariously, check out these options for spectator fun. We’ll start with the biggest duo in existence today.

PlayStation Plus not required to play Elder Scrolls Online on PS4 – Bethesda Softworks parent company Zenimax Media has confirmed that its upcoming MMO The Elder Scrolls Online won’t require a PlayStation Plus subscription to be played on the PS4. Xbox One players, on the other hand, will have to pay for an Xbox Live Gold subscription in order to play the game.

Nintendo denies mini-game smartphone rumors – Nintendo has officially denied reports that it plans to start offering mini-games on smartphone devices, saying that the company has no intentions of releasing games for those products.

Amazon expected to launch sub-$300 Android games console this year – Amazon has shown multiple times now it isn’t afraid of entering the hardware market with its own take on how a gadget should work. So far they’ve seen the most success with the Kindle range of e-readers, but the Kindle Fire tablets aren’t exactly doing badly. Now it looks like we’re about to get a dedicated games console from the company, which you’d also expect to carry the Kindle name.

Borderlands 2 update will bring colorblind mode: game programmer tells all – In a long write up in a Gear Box Software’s Inside the Box, programmer Jeffrey “botman” Broome has detailed what went into creating a colorblind mode for Borderlands 2, which will arrive in an upcoming game update. Broome delves deep into the topic, covering the biological aspect of colorblindness and what goes into developing a game that meets the condition’s needs.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Silicon Valley Is Now Public Enemy No. 1, And We Only Have Ourselves To Blame – For a region noted for its problem-solving orientation and progressive ethos, Silicon Valley has managed to anger a pretty wide swath of American society. Some of the blows have been self-inflicted, like venture capitalists who compare progressivism to Nazism or who block access to public beaches. But those issues are mere skirmishes compared to the war over increasing inequality in San Francisco and the Bay Area, which have led to attacks on private buses and stalkers of Google executives.

Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it’s serious – What are we to do with Stephen Fry? Britain’s go-to guy for advertisement voice-overs has had another attempt at explaining computing history, in his own unique way. But he’s got it wrong, and at the same time sullied the memory of one of the industry’s true pioneers.

Early build of ‘iOS in the Car’ shown in video – iOS in the Car is an iPhone feature which will allow drivers to use a tweaked version of iOS 7 on their car’s dashboard display. For the first time, the interface has been shown unofficially in video.

Porsche’s recovered 1898 electric car: After sitting in a warehouse for 111 years, the first Porsche is back – Also known as the “P-1,” this design would become the first vehicle from Ferdinand Porsche in 1898. Three years later it was wheeled into a warehouse where it sat for over 111 years. Recently recovered, the P-1 is now on permanent display at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Continue through the gallery to see how the unrestored electric vehicle looks today.

Angry bear rip your plane apart? Duct tape can put you back in the air – It’s an unbelievable story, but believe it you should: One Alaskan pilot managed to repair enormous damage to his small aircraft… with duct tape.

New Homeland Security Chief: Legalizing Undocumented Immigrants Is A Matter Of National Security – The new Homeland Security secretary says an earned path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally is a matter of national security. (Suggested by Aseem S. As Aseem pointed out to me – EVERYTHING in the U.S. is a matter of national security.)

Donald Trump Explains Apple’s Stock Dip – Noted Apple analyst and Birther Movement enthusiast Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to voice his concerns over the company’s lack of “vision” and “momentum”. On the heels of yesterday’s earnings report, which included record iPhone and iPad sales, Apple’s stock dropped about 8 percent in after-hours trading. Why? According to Trump, because the iPhone needs a large-screen option.

The ‘closet-sharing’ economy: Like thrift shopping without the effort – Used merchandise is big business in the United States, with 18,000 stores selling $13 billion worth of stuff each year. But those numbers count only physical shops, not websites and apps, which aren’t exactly clamoring to disclose their active-user totals or their revenue numbers. One resale app, Poshmark, this week said that it has millions of users who sold more than 1.5 million items last year.

Something to think about:

Surveillance equals power. The more you know about someone, the more you can control and manipulate them in all sorts of ways. That is one reason a Surveillance State is so menacing to basic political liberties.”

–      Glenn Greenwald

Today’s Free Downloads:

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair 2.2.0 – Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including registry errors and file permissions. With Tweaking.com – Windows Repair you can restore many of your Windows settings to their original state. Also, this program also has the MalwareBytes Anti-Malware scanning engine built in to help rid your machine of infection before attempting repairs.

Avira AntiVir Rescue System – The Avira AntiVir Rescue System a linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to repair a damaged system, to rescue data or to scan the system for virus infections. Just double-click on the rescue system package to burn it to a CD/DVD. You can then use this CD/DVD to boot your computer. The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is updated several times a day so that the most recent security updates are always available.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Users Should Be Able To Sue Tech Companies Over Spying, Says Sen. Rand Paul – Libertarian hero and presidential hopeful Senator Rand Paul tells me that tech companies should not be granted legal immunity from consumers suing them over government spying. The Patriot Act infamously gave telecommunications companies immunity from being sued for allowing Intelligence agencies to tap phone and Internet lines.

Tech giants CAN disclose US spooks’ data demands – but with heavy restrictions – Apple has announced that it received less than 250 requests for data from US intelligence agencies in the first half of last year after the Obama administration slightly loosened restrictions on disclosing spooks’ data requests. After months of negotiations between the Obama administration and tech firms, from Yahoo! to Facebook, the Department of Justice filed with the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow “more detailed disclosures” about the amount of data the government tries to get out of web companies and communications providers.

Google-Backed Developer Group Slams Newly Uncovered NSA App Spying – The Application Developers Alliance, which counts Google and AT&T as members according to its website, has condemned recent NSA revelations concerning data collection efforts by the government from apps, saying that the news “damages” its industry, and “undermines the hard work of app developer entrepreneurs everywhere.” Yesterday, newly reveled efforts by the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, to collect user information from certain mobile applications relit the discussion concerning privacy, data integrity, and the limits of government surveillance. The documents behind the leak, provided by Edward Snowden, allow the government to, in the words of The Guardian, “piggyback [on] commercial data collection for their own purposes.”

Lavabit case highlights legal fuzziness around encryption rules – While privacy advocates may see Lavabit as bravely defending U.S. privacy rights in the online world, federal judges hearing its appeal of contempt-of-court charges seem to regard the now defunct encrypted email service as just being tardy in complying with government court orders. Attorneys from both Lavabit and the U.S. government agreed that the legal issues between them could have been resolved before heading to court, though neither party seemed to have an adequate technical answer of how Lavabit could have successfully passed unencrypted data to a law enforcement agency in order to meet the government’s demands.

NSA gains a civil liberties and privacy officer: reports – Dragnets, datacentre tapping, secret courts, and beam weapons. These are but a few of the actions conducted by the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) and its Five Eyes cohorts, thanks to the documents leaked to journalists by Edward Snowden. Yet, here we are, at the turning of the tide, as Lawfare reports that the NSA has appointed its first civil liberties and privacy officer (CLPO).

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 28, 2014

Angry Birds and other “leaky” apps used by NSA to grab user data;  What browser has the safest add-ons?  Brits spy on YouTube, Facebook behavior;  People pirate porn and TV more than music;  Seven apps to help you stay sober;  Help Grandma with her Facebook settings;  Five essential apps for traveling with your pets;  Take the 3-step Privacy Plan Diet; Toys,  Games and Malware for Boys and Girls;  Detroit wants its own high-tech visa;  Flatulent cows make shed explode;  Why you need to start using Google Voice;  Congressmen Call For DNI Clapper’s Removal.

Angry Birds and other “leaky” apps used by NSA to grab user data – The NSA likes it when mobile users download so-called “leaky” apps, a new report by The Guardian reveals. The reason? These apps, with Angry Birds being specified among them, allows the intelligence agency to gather pieces of information on users, such as phone information and location. The same method is reportedly being used by the United Kingdom’s GCHQ spy agency. (Time for the U.S. to be classified as a “rogue state” by the U.N.? Substitute “China” for the “U.S.” – what would your position be?)

New GOP resolution says NSA metadata dragnet program harms basic human rights – The resolution also states that “unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens the very foundations of a democratic society and this program represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy and goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act.”

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Here’s what Brit snooping tells us: IE users are no fun – The latest presentation dumped by former U.S. contractor Edward Snowden reveals a mishmash of bad psychology, slightly delusional big data dreams and presentations that would require a lot of faith in government IT practices to believe.

Snowden’s Squeaky Dolphin leak: Brits spy on YouTube, Facebook behavior – What the Brits were trying to do was cull an ocean of data—even relatively meaningless Facebook likes and YouTube shares—to garner some insight.

After Chrome’s recent extension drama, what browser has the safest add-ons? – Given how Chrome’s system of updates, design restrictions, and ownership seemed to have gotten ahead of itself, we decided to take a look at the policies of other browsers to see if their extensions could be subjected to a similar fate. While Chrome isn’t the only browser where an Add To Feedly tale could be spun, it seems to be the most likely place for such an outcome.

Why you need to start using Google Voice, your Android phone’s best-kept secret – Google Voice is a powerful suite of tools comprised of a dedicated phone number, call routing, caller announce, call recording, free texting, online voicemail, voicemail-to-text transcription, low-cost International calling, and more (whew!). It’s an amazing suite of features, and you can leverage this service to add these killer tools to just about any phone.

Help Grandma with her Facebook settings using AVG’s new privacy tools – You’re completely mastered your social networks’ privacy settings. Facebook? Check. Twitter? Locked down. Google+? Deleted. (Just kidding! Sort of.) But then Facebook removes a setting and Instagram adds messaging, disrupting the delicate ecosystem of privacy protections you’ve worked so hard to create. Security firm AVG says they have the cure with PrivacyFix, free software that lets you manage privacy settings across all your social networks from a centralized dashboard.

Hands-on with Knoppix Linux 7.2.0 Over the years, Knoppix has evolved and expanded. In about 2005 a Live DVD version was added, with loads of additional applications, utilities and packages included. Rather than drop the Live CD version, however, both formats have been maintained since then, with the CD version as a “small/fast/easy” alternative, and the DVD version as an “everything including the kitchen sink” alternative.

The Porno Bay: People pirate porn and TV much more than music – A little over one-third — 35% — of the Pirate Bay is composed of pornography torrents, second only to TV episodes and movies, which make up 44% of the Bay’s new uploads. What was once piracy’s biggest target, music, is now one of its smallest, making up just 9% of new uploads — down from the 34% makeup from 2004. The site receives around 75,000 uploads per month, which has risen over the years from just the 2,000 per month back in 2004.

Stack Exchange App Answers All Your Questions on Android – When seeking expert advice on the internet, your Google searches have likely taken you to a Stack Exchange website on occasion. Stack Exchange is a network of 112 question and answer sites that focus on a diverse set of topics. There’s everything from programming, to photography, to cooking. Now you can get all that content in a single compact Android app.

Seven apps to help you stay sober, one day at a time – If you’re new to recovery and looking for resources, reach for your smartphone and see if any of the following apps can give you an assist. Remember: An app is just software, and it alone can do only so much.

Google may be the last calculator you’ll ever need – Many of us rely on Google to find things on the Internet. But what you may not know is that the Google search bar also makes a heck of a calculator—useful if you’re like me and still have to rely on your fingers to perform basic math. But it can do more than that: It can tell you how many liters are in 3.9 gallons or the currency exchange rates between the Euro and the Yen.

Create custom, embeddable Google Maps in minutes – This demo shows how to use the Google Map Builder tool to customize a Google Map and then embed it into a website or web page document.

Your backup drive needs a backup plan: Three ways to safeguard the data – Congratulations on backing up your PC—but you aren’t as safe as you may think you are. Files on your backup drive can be just as vulnerable to disaster as files on your main system are. Most recently, CryptoLocker demonstrated that an external drive connected to a PC—a secondary hard drive, for example, or an external USB hard drive used for backup—could fall victim to ransomware just as easily as the PC on the other end of the cable.

Google Glass prescription frames official in four styles – Google has revealed its prescription frames for Google Glass, the much-anticipated accessory which will make the wearable computer more user-friendly to those who already wear glasses. Dubbed the Titanium Collection and offered in four styles – Thin, Classic, Bold, and Split – all are made from lightweight titanium, like the original Glass band, and will be supplied with non-prescription lenses suited for those who don’t need their vision corrected, but can be optionally fitted out to suit a prescription.

The many ways to copy, move, or delete multiple files – You may think there’s nothing more to learn about these common tasks, but you may be wrong. Here are some tips and tricks even seasoned users could miss.

Five essential apps for traveling with your pets – If you ever travel with your dog—even just around town—the free iOS app BringFido is an excellent resource for quickly finding dog-friendly destinations, accommodations, restaurants, beaches, and, of course, parks. In my travels, the app was especially useful for finding and booking hotels, because BringFido’s rates were in many cases the best rates I could find.

Sprint offers customers unlimited cloud storage for $4.99 a month – Sprint has announced it is teaming up with Pogoplug to offer its iPhone and Android customers unlimited cloud storage for photos, videos and documents for $4.99 a month.

Windows 8.1 Update 1: Everything we know so far – The next refresh of Windows will place more emphasis on desktop-friendliness, and it’s said to be right around the corner.

Wikipedia adding voice recordings to famous people’s pages – England’s BBC is helping to get the project off the ground by openly licensing clips from its broadcast archives.

Security:

Take the 3-step Privacy Plan Diet – Losing your grip on personal privacy is easy these days: the internet is never more than an arm’s length away. That’s why we’ve come up with the 3-step Privacy Plan Diet – it’s time to say “Hello” to the new you!

Hacker will become the first charged under India’s cyber security laws – Amit Vikram Tiwari will be the first person to be charged under India’s cyber security laws. The man is accused of operating a hacking service where bank and email details were breached for a fee.

WhatsApp shutting down on 28th January? It’s a hoax – A hoax spreads on WhatsApp telling users to forward a warning to all of their friends, or risk having their account deactivated. I guess you can tell that a social messaging service has become popular with the masses when the hoaxes and chain letters begin to spread in fury.

Hasbro.com: Toys, Games and Malware for Boys and Girls – A week ago (on Monday, January 20), as well as on January 14, 11, and 10, Hasbro’s website pushed malicious software to visitors’ computers. As with the Cracked.com compromise a week prior, the incident was the result of direct site compromise, and affected users were unlikely to have recognized that their computers were infected.

Company News:

Following Trademark Dispute With BSkyB, Microsoft Rebrands “SkyDrive” To “OneDrive” – As Microsoft helpfully points to in its blog post, the real reason behind the rebrand is a dispute with European broadcaster BSkyB, which claimed the name “SkyDrive” infringed on its own trademark. The company, one of the largest pay-TV providers in Europe, offers online streaming, mobile apps, and even had its own online storage service called “Sky Store & Share” from 2008-2011. BSkyB took Microsoft to court to force it to change the name of its cloud storage service, first launched back in 2007.

Google bets $2.7 million that Chrome OS can’t be hacked – Google’s putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to Chrome OS security. They’re putting up more than $2.7 million in prize money to CanSecWest hackers that can compromise the Chromebook software. Those looking for a piece of the action have to register for this year’s installment of Pwnium by March 10. The battle begins just two days later when CanSecWest 2014 kicks off in Vancouver.

Strategy Analytics: 990M Smartphones Shipped In 2013, Huawei, Lenovo and LG ‘Star Performers’ – To coincide with Apple releasing its Q1 earnings, Strategy Analytics has put out its quarterly and full-year figures for how the smartphone market has fared, along with figures on the wider mobile phone market. Overall, there were nearly 1 billion — 990 million — smartphones shipped in 2013, representing growth of 41% over 2012′s 700 million units. Smartphone shipments for the…

Cook admits Apple blew the call on the iPhone 5C – Apple sold a record 51 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2013, but acknowledged it underestimated the appeal of the flagship iPhone 5S, making some analysts question the company’s two-model strategy.

Games and Entertainment:

GTA San Andreas finally available on Windows Phone – Rockstar Games has finally launched Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for Windows Phone 8 smartphones after multiple delays and months after launching on Android and iOS.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition Review – We’re in an era of reboots in the greater gaming universe, that’s for certain, and games like Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition are taking the term as lightly as possible in an upgrade from one year to the next. Like the current trend in seasons of a smartphone, Square Enix has opted to suggest: if it isn’t broken, just make it look better. While we never really saw any iteration of Tomb Raider in 2013 as a title that needed some visual finessing, here it’s made rather clear: sometimes you don’t know what you want until it’s been given to you.

Microsoft buys rights to Gears of War franchise, says new game in development – Microsoft has announced it has acquired the rights to the Gears of War game franchise from its creators at Epic Games and that a new game from Black Tusk Studios is in the works.

“League of Legends” sees big jump in daily users – League of Legends, the popular fantasy game from Riot Games, has announced a large jump in daily players, exceeding 27 million gamers per day. This is more than a doubling of the daily users in a little over a year, with the company previously sitting at 12 million gamers back in October 2012. Its simultaneous-players peak has also risen substantially over the last several months.

Nintendo to test out mobile mini games – We may not see the Super Mario for iOS everyone desperately wants, but Nintendo is beginning to test the mobile waters and could find something useful there.

At 20 Million Copies Sold, Skyrim Is in the Top 20 Bestselling Games of All Time – Bear in mind that 20 million copies comprises all the subsequent compilation editions, and a certain number of buyers (myself included) are probably double-dipping, but consider that by comparison, Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 3 sold 18 million copies, while Super Mario World grabbed just a tick more at 20.6 million. None of the Halos are in that list, nor any of the Gears of Wars. Not a single Zelda game’s ever come close, and the top-selling installment in Sony’s bestselling PlayStation 2-exclusive franchise, Gran Turismo 3 (and remember that the PS2 is the bestselling game console in history), couldn’t crack 15 million copies.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Report from the future: Data Privacy in the year 2044 – Today is 28 January 2014. That means it’s Data Privacy Day! So we asked Naked Security’s Virtual Futurist, Frank di Scorse, to do the following: Go forward in time 30 years. Absorb the next generation’s attitude to privacy. Report back from the future. Here’s the way Frank sees it, all the way from 2044. Ask yourself, “Is this where we want to go?”

Thirty years ago: My first computer was an IBM PC – The 30th anniversary of the Apple Mac has spurred a lot of reminiscences. But Mary Jo Foley has a different story.

Flatulent cows make shed explode, report says – I understand that cows are largely to blame for global warming. However, I never imagined that the seemingly life-weary animals had an explosion in them. Life has a way of surprising you, so I am fascinated to learn that the anal emissions of 90 cows are said to have caused a fire in a German shed. As Reuters reports, these cows were cooped up together and the products of their flatulence had nowhere to emerge.

Let there be light: A hand-made solar lamp from Uganda – Although not exactly polished, the light itself looks reasonably good. It’s compact and fairly lightweight, and it clearly doesn’t need an owner’s manual. Its lone control—a switch—is labeled. It’s fairly lightweight, though I wouldn’t carry it on a backpacking trip. But the key thing is that it works. I’m using it in the middle of winter in New York City, where the weather’s been on the cloudy side of nice for most of the time I’ve had it.

Nearby supernova will light up the sky for a week, grant insight into dark energy – An exceptionally bright nearby supernova can be seen with regular binoculars, but astronomers think that same intensity could also tell us something about the very nature of the universe.

Google could be the first company to implement Asimov’s Three Laws – Rumors of an ethics board to accompany Google’s recent acquisition of the artificial intelligence company DeepMind Technologies could see the creation of uniform robotics laws in the future.

Detroit wants its own high-tech visa – Detroit, a city in bankruptcy and dealing with a shrinking population, hopes to turn itself around with the help of 50,000 employment-based green cards. The visas would be made available under the EB-2 visa category, a visa for professionals who hold advanced degrees or those deemed to possess “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts or business, said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, who pitched the idea on Thursday. In exchange for the visa, an immigrant would be required to live and work in Detroit. The required length of the residency has not been determined, according to a spokesman for the governor.

Something to think about:

Half of the modern drugs could well be thrown out of the window, except that the birds might eat them.”

–      Dr. Martin Henry Fischer

Today’s Free Downloads:

Download Hash Verifier 3.5 – Verify the integrity of your downloaded file with both MD5 and SHA256 hash verification methods so you don’t have to use multiple tools. It makes file hash verification easier and quicker with its smart features such as ‘Auto Hash Detection’, ‘Drag & Drop File’, ‘Instant copy from Clipboard’ etc. Hash verification is a standard mechanism used to verify that downloaded file is original and not tempered. Often it happens that hackers modify the download files on the server and plant it with trojans/spywares.

Switch Hitter 1.0 – Switch Hitter is a keyboard diagnostic program that allows for key actuation testing and aims to alleviate difficulty in switch bounce/chatter diagnosis. Different keyboard layouts can be selected from a simple drop-down list. Layout files are customizable and any number of layout files can be added and easily selected.

Money Manager Ex – Money Manager Ex is a free, open-source, cross-platform, easy-to-use personal finance software. It primarily helps organize one’s finances and keeps track of where, when and how the money goes. It is also a great tool to get a bird’s eye view of your financial worth. Money Manager includes all the basic features that 90% of users would want to see in a personal finance application. The design goals are to concentrate on simplicity and user-friendliness – something one can use everyday.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA May Want Mobile Data, Including Info From Angry Birds And Maps – The National Security Agency reportedly has a love affair with mobile app data, collecting personal information from Google Maps and Angry Birds, referring to the program as a “Golden Nugget”. The classified documents, which were leaked to a handful of news agencies — originate partly from a leak by whistleblower Edward Snowden. They reveal a long-standing project to collect personal data from “leaky” mobile applications. Mobile apps collect a staggering amount of personal data, on everything from product preferences to location.

Department Of Justice Will Allow Big Tech Companies To Disclose Detailed Numbers Of Surveillance Requests – Apple today released more details on the requests it receives from government surveillance agencies after the Department Of Justice releaxed limits on disclosures. Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, and LinkedIn today were given the right to disclose more details on the data requests and orders they receive from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after suing the government for months to declassify these numbers.

Gearing up for midterm elections, candidates jostle to be most anti-NSA – This year is a midterm election year, with all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 (of 100) seats in the US Senate up for grabs. (Not to mention, there’s a slew of other state and local elections.) And this year, according to Politico, individuals on both the political left and libertarian right are attempting to position themselves as the pro-privacy, anti-National Security Agency candidates.

Congressmen Call For DNI Clapper’s Removal – A group of six Congressmen have asked President Barack Obama to remove James Clapper as director of national intelligence as a result of his misstatements to Congress about the NSA’s dragnet data-collection programs. The group, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said that Clapper’s role as DNI “is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs”.

TorMail’s entire database nabbed by FBI, reveals court documents – Security concerns in the digital world are a valid area of focus, and many both before and after the Snowden epic elected to use encrypted email services over the more typical Gmail and Outlook offerings. One such mail service is TorMail, namesake of the popular onion-routing Tor (though an independent project), which offers anonymous messaging. According to court documents that recently surfaced, the FBI has cloned the entire email database.

DOJ statement: public interest outweighs security concerns – In accordance with orders sent out earlier this month by the President of the United States on intelligence reforms, the US Department of Justice has begun “acting to allow” more transparency in a number of areas. The number of “national security orders and requests” sent to communications providers as well as the number of customer accounts that that are targeted will be part of this set of “more detailed disclosures.”

Lavabit to have its day in federal appeals court – Lavabit, the private email service that shut down last year after a court order called for its private SSL (secure socket layer) keys, will make its case Tuesday before a U.S. federal appeals court. Although tangentially related to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s activities, the case could eventually affect all Web service providers, such as Google or Facebook, in that it could set precedents for the legal scope that law enforcement agencies will have over those holding the keys to encrypted data.

With NSA reform, what does more disclosure from tech firms mean? – While technology companies can now release the number of user data requests they receive from the government, civil liberties groups say this is just a small step.

US looks to prevent spying on its spies – The US government is looking into encryption techniques that could prevent eavesdroppers from spying on its own surveillance of Americans’ phone records. As the Obama administration considers shifting the collection of phone records from the National Security Agency (NSA) to requiring that they be stored at phone companies or elsewhere, it’s quietly funding research to prevent phone company employees or eavesdroppers from seeing who the US is spying on, the Associated Press has learned.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 27, 2014

Top apps to boost your privacy;  Stay frosty and keep your computer cool;  The tools you need to work on any device;  Microsoft retains weapon to silently scrub XP;  Handy tech to have during an emergency;  Six must-have Ubuntu Unity tweaks;  Encrypt your Android smartphone for paranoid-level security; How to Extend Your iPhone Battery; Cheap or free upgrades to squeeze more power from any PC.

Top apps to boost your privacy – Privacy on the Internet has become a hot issue. Fortunately, there are many apps out there that help to improve your chances of maintaining some shred of privacy. Granted, these aren’t exactly 100 percent PRISM proof, but they’re methods that will significantly improve your chances of having a more anonymous experience on the Web.

Your ultimate mobile office: The tools you need to work on any device – Whether work follows you out of the office or your office is wherever you happen to be, you can’t be tied down. You need to edit documents, access files, track projects, and more, from your laptop or from any major flavor of mobile device. Here are the tools anyone needs to get work done anywhere.

Stay frosty and keep your computer cool – Put half a dozen doctors in a room and ask them for a diagnosis on the patient in front of them and you may be surprised at the answers you get. The same can be said for many computer related problems and cooling your computer is a case in point.

Cheap or free upgrades to squeeze more power from any PC – “This PC is so slow!” This is a cry that’s been uttered by PC users since, well, PCs were first invented. Since we don’t think that there’s anyone out there who wouldn’t like to squeeze a little more performance out of their PC, we’ve pulled together six top tips that will help you get the most out of your Windows PC, without having to spend a fortune. These tips will work for any PC running Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft retains weapon to silently scrub XP – Microsoft will be able to silently reach into Windows XP PCs for more than a year after it stops patching the aged OS to clean malware-infected machines, sources close to the company confirmed

How to Extend Your iPhone Battery – Whether you know it or not, you have a bunch up apps pulling down new content all day long. That creates a strain on your battery. Here’s how to fix it.

Encrypt your Android smartphone for paranoid-level security – The following steps will work with nearly all Android devices. I will demonstrate using the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S4. Some device instructions may vary (depending upon the device).

Handy tech to have during an emergency – Over the years I’ve learned that having some well-designed kit close to hand can make all the difference during an emergency (small or large). Here’s a look at some of the tech-related kit that I’ve found most useful over the years.

Adobe Releases Photoshop Express 2.0 For Android, Brings an Updated UI and a Host of New Features – Adobe launched Photoshop Express on Android ages ago, and for a long time didn’t do much to improve it. The company has finally gotten back to it with a complete redesign to this free photo editor, and the changes seem overwhelmingly positive. It’s not nearly as powerful as Photoshop Touch, but it’s also worlds easier to use.

BitTorrent throttling in U.S. creeps back up – Most U.S. Internet users enjoy unfettered access to the Web. But that could be changing, if the upwardly creeping percentage of throttled BitTorrent users is any indicator. For more than five years, a Google-backed organization called Measurement Lab has offered a throttling detection program called Glasnost. The latest data from M-Lab, compiled by TorrentFreak, shows that 14 percent of U.S. Glasnost users experienced slower speeds while using BitTorrent between December 2012 and December 2013.

Six must-have Ubuntu Unity tweaks – There’s a lot of reasons to love Ubuntu Unity. Out of the box, it’s an incredibly efficient and user-friendly desktop environment. Is it standard fare? Not at all. Is it hard to learn? Not even remotely. Are there necessary tweaks you have to make? Certainly. Depending upon your desire to tinker, you could find yourself tweaking the interface the entire time you use it. Thankfully, there’s a single tool — called the Unity Tweak Tool — that enables you to fine-tune the Unity interface so that it works exactly how you want it to work.

South Korea bans unremovable mobile bloatware – The South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning has banned the common practice of mobile manufacturers and networks putting un-removable apps on smartphones. Telcos will now be required to make all pre-installed apps deletable, except for those that enable Wi-Fi connectivity, near-field communication, customer service, and an app store.

Yahoo mocks Gmail outage, backtracks, apologises, looks stupid – After yesterday’s brief outage that hit Google services, Yahoo took to Twitter to mock its rival, apparently forgetting the massive outage that crippled its own email service for four days last month.

Prevent unauthorized use of material you share on social networks – Anyone can send unlicensed users a takedown notice, but the only way to collect damages for a violation of your copyright on the images, videos, and other items you post is to register them with your friendly local copyright office.

BeWifi lets you steal your neighbor’s bandwidth when they’re not using it – What if, when you were up at a ridiculous hour Skyping your relatives in Australia, you could borrow unused bandwidth from your sleeping neighbors to make your own broadband connection faster and stronger? High up in a glass tower in Barcelona, Telefonica’s research and development team has been attempting to tackle exactly this question. The solution they have come up with, BeWifi, is a technology that gathers bandwidth from local Wi-Fi routers in order to enhance the connection of the users that happen to be on the Internet at exactly that moment in time.

Microsoft creates a 20 gigapixel photo panorama of Seattle – Microsoft has created a new 20 gigapixel photo panorama of Seattle that used the company’s Photosynth and Image Composite Editor software to merge nearly 2,400 separate photos.

Camera innovation: 10 products that are changing how we take photos and videos – Innovative technology is rapidly changing the way we use a camera. In the future, we will do much more than just record, share, and stream photos and videos.

How Much Time Have You Wasted on Facebook? – Facebook doesn’t publicize data on exactly how often a user logs in, though you can bet that they’ve got that information. In lieu of that measurement, this app runs through the timestamps on every post in your feed until it reaches the earliest one, which it uses as the estimated date that you created your profile. Users who are extraordinarily active on the site may get an estimate that is considerably later than the actual date that they joined.

Security:

Arts and crafts chain Michaels investigates possible data breach – Michaels, a large U.S.-based arts and craft store chain, said Saturday it is investigating a possible data breach after suspicious activity was detected on payment cards used at its stores. The company opted to come forward without confirming a compromise because of the “widely reported criminal efforts to penetrate the data systems of U.S. retailers,” according to a company statement.

Spam drops as legit biz dumps mass email ads: Only the dodgy remain – Kaspersky Lab reports the portion of spam in email flows was as high as 69.6 per cent in 2013 – which is 2.5 percentage points lower than 2012. The biggest sources of spam were China (23 per cent) and the US (18 per cent), according to the Russian security firm. The drop in spam mail last year follows a steady decrease since 2010. Kaspersky experts reckons that unscrupulous marketeers are turning away from email because it’s becoming a less and less effective medium to promote their dubious wares.

Pay by hashtag: Twitter wants to get inside your wallet – Twitter is reportedly working on an e-commerce project powered by Stripe, a company that acts behind the scenes to process payments for sharing-economy startups such as Lyft, Postmates, and Sidecar. What that social-shopping initiative will look like is still unclear, but this isn’t the first time Twitter or other social networks have set their sights on retail.

Microsoft says new phishing attacks targeted law enforcement documents – On Friday, Microsoft admitted that “a select number” of employees fell victim to a successfully-executed highly-targeted spear phishing attacks via social media and e-mail accounts. The company says the attackers went after “documents associated with law enforcement.”

Here’s To Ten Years of Mobile Malware! – Not all anniversaries are celebrations of good relationships. In the early days of malware and cellphones’ relationship, it might have been hard to foresee that mobile threats would explode into the problem that they are today. Fortinet celebrated mobile malware’s tenth anniversary this year by detailing some of the most notable threats to mobile devices.

Brazilian techie gets biggest Facebook payout to date – Facebook announced its largest payment to date to a Brazilian computer engineer for finding one of the worst bugs it could have in its systems. Reginaldo Silva received $33,500 from the company for his discovery, which was related to an XML external entity vulnerability within a PHP page hosted on its servers utilizing OpenID authentication.

Company News:

Apple now spends more on chips than top three PC makers combined – According to the latest figures from market research firm IHS iSuppli, Apple and Samsung again topped the list of the biggest semiconductor consumers, as they have done for the last three years running. And they did so by a wide margin. Together, Apple and Samsung bought $52.5bn worth of semiconductors in 2013, a sum that represented 22 per cent of the “served available market” – a metric that excludes purchases companies make from their own internal divisions.

Google and Samsung sign global patent cross-license deal – Today, Samsung and Google announced that the two companies signed patent cross-licensing agreements. The deal covers both existing patents and patents filed over the next 10 years, though the companies didn’t say how all encompassing the agreement was. Recode, which appears to have been briefed on the situation, reports that the patents cover more than just mobile devices.

Ericsson and Samsung settle patent litigation with a licensing pact – After signing a global patent licensing agreement with Google, Samsung is once again entering into another licensing arrangement. However, in its settlement with Ericsson, however, Samsung is not really standing on equal ground.

Candy trademark owner King.com accused of cloning indie game Scamperghost – There has been a lot of talk about King.com managing to trademark the word candy this week. Not only because allowing such a generic word to be trademarked is ridiculous, but because of King.com’s actions since securing the trademark. They are aggressively pursuing other developers using names similar to their own games. King.com states this is their way of protecting games from clones and ensuring gamers don’t get confused due to similar naming, but King.com apparently did exactly what it is trying to prevent before it hit the big time with releases like Candy Crush Saga.

Games and Entertainment:

PC gaming hardware: The coolest gear to look for in 2014 – 2014 could be a renaissance year for PC gaming. From pristine graphics to compact designs to immersive gameplay, there’s never been a better time to ditch your console and boot up a PC. Check out some of the most exciting things due to arrive this year—some of them enticingly soon. We start with a powerful gaming PC masquerading as a light, thin laptop.

Screenshots confirm Oculus Rift horror game The Forest is pure nightmare fuel – If there’s one thing the Oculus Rift is fantastic at, it’s making things seem incredibly real. While some people would take this and apply it to beautiful scenery or a chance to dive into your favorite story world, one game developer is going to use this tech to inspire a whole new kind of nightmare.

Dungeons and Dragons Turns 40: 10 Awesome D&D Computer Games – It’s Dungeons and Dragons’ 40th anniversary, and people have been playing it on PCs for almost as long. Walk through the 10 best adaptations in the past 40 years.

Google demos mini-games for Glass – The Mini-Games app for Glass consists of five different games for Glass that all focus on exploring a different kind of user interaction. The Clay Shooter game uses your head to control the crosshairs to take down small orange disks as they fly past you, after you shout “Pull!” to start the round. Matcher is a Glass-friendly memory game where you hover over tiles to match up shapes, again using your head to control the pointer. Shape Splitter offers Fruit Ninja style gameplay, only you slash your hand in front of the Glass camera to take out the colorful shapes. Balance is a 2D accelerometer game that stacks boxes on a tiny person that you keep stable with your head, while Tennis uses your face as a racket to play a quick match in a 3D space.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Most Americans Are Unaware Of [Insert Issue Here] – Let’s face it: a disturbingly large portion of the American electorate are not-so-knowledgeable about their world. As of 2008, 30% still maintain that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and 18% think the sun revolves around the earth. So, when our friends in the press ran headlines about how most Americans had heard “nothing at all” about President Obama’s recent surveillance reforms, I would have been surprised by exactly the opposite. Let’s take a trip down the rabbit hole of America’s civic knowledge and whether it matters to a functioning democratic state.

Police want to use your home security cameras for surveillance – A proposal in California suggests that local residents should contribute their security camera video for the societal good. As the San Jose Mercury News reports, all the citizens would have to do is to register their home security cameras with the local police. In the event of a local incident of any kind, the police would be able to remotely access the video feed and view everything the home security camera captured. Supporters suggest that this is an intelligent and logical suggestion to combat increasing crime in what used to be known as a safe part of America. (Amazing – the POLICE seeking cooperation in expanding the POLICE STATE.)

Famous VC: I meant what I said. Criticizing the rich is like Nazism – You might have heard a slight collective inhalation on your Twitter account over the last 24 hours. It seems that Tom Perkins, the Perkins Of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (and now merely partner emeritus), believes that expressions of concern, distaste, or protest toward the 1 percent who have a lot more money than the 99 percent is akin to Nazism. In a letter to the Wall Street Journal headlined “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?”, Perkins said, oh just read the whole thing:

10 chilly GIFs of snow and ice – Winter weather is ravaging much of the US this week, and there’s not much we can do about it. Might as well embrace the season, and what better way than in GIF form?

A hacker’s story: Mitchell Frost explains his motivation – As a 19-year-old college student In 2006, Mitchell Frost used a campus network to launch botnets against several conservative web sites; here is his story.

Hawking paper argues black holes aren’t black after all – Stephen Hawking helped to first convince the world that black holes exist, but this week he’s begun the opposite campaign: black holes do not exist as we thought we knew them.

A Visual History of Apple’s Mac – The Mac in 2014 is a totally different beast compared to the 1984 Macintosh. In a note on its website, Apple said that Mac “was designed to be so easy to use that people could actually use it.” That sounds obvious, but back in 1984, personal computing wasn’t very intuitive.

Credit: PCMag.

Something to think about:

“You always second guess yourself. Just think of all the time you’d save if you just trusted yourself.”

–      Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata

Today’s Free Downloads:

StrokesPlus – StrokesPlus is a mouse gesture recognition program that allows you to automate repetitive tasks by simply drawing a gesture with your mouse or performing mouse and/or keyboard modifiers to fire off an action sequence. Whether the action sequence you’re wanting to fire uses a gesture, mouse/keyboard modifier(s), or both, you begin with pressing the selected Stroke button on your mouse. By default, the Stroke button is assigned to the right mouse button. To begin, press and hold the Stroke button and either draw the gesture or perform the mouse/keyboard modifier(s), then release the Stroke button. If the events are recognized as being tied to an action sequence, StrokesPlus will fire the action sequence.

FrostWire – FrostWire is a peer-to-peer file sharing program for the Gnutella and BitTorrent protocols. FrostWire is written in Java, and is a fork of LimeWire, another popular Gnutella client. Released under the GNU General Public License, FrostWire is free software.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden accuses NSA of conducting industrial espionage – The National Security Agency engages in industrial espionage, grabbing intelligence from foreign companies regardless of the information’s value to national defense, Edward Snowden told a German TV network. In text released to the media ahead of a broadcast Sunday, German public television broadcaster ARD quoted the former NSA contractor as citing German engineering firm Siemens as an example.

The Obama Administration’s Frustrating NSA Week – While Congress and the nation at large have done little except talk and embark on preliminary legal skirmishes regarding the United States’ mass surveillance practices, the forces in favor of reform and change had a decent week. The Obama administration did not. The president’s speech one week ago on proposed changes to NSA practices was met with skepticism. A sample headline detailing the response: “Jon Stewart skewers Obama’s vague, rambling NSA speech.” The Post was sedate but firm: “Obama goal for quick revamp of NSA program may be unworkable, some U.S. officials fear.” If the president had hoped that his reform proposals — including mild curtailment of the phone metadata program, some sort of protection for the privacy of foreign citizens and the like — would placate those opposed to the NSA, he was certainly disappointed.

NSA website ‘for children’ features code breaking cats and dogs – An article in the New York Times has drawn attention to a NSA website tailored for children. The website, which features cartoon animals, teaches children about the benefits of intelligence gathering.

Snowden return to US hinges on amnesty, his legal adviser says – Any negotiations with Edward Snowden regarding his return to the US would require guarantees of amnesty, his legal adviser said Sunday. Jesselyn Radack told NBC’s “Meet The Press” that the former NSA contractor would be willing to enter negotiations with Attorney General Eric Holder about returning to the US but would need assurances that he would not face prosecution for leaking confidential documents detailing the NSA’s surveillance programs. Holder said Thursday that the US would be open to negotiations but that granting amnesty “would be going too far.”

Apple’s Tim Cook interview on NSA begins with “no back door” – Today on the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Mac computer to the world by Apple, Tim Cook has taken to ABC to speak not only about oddities like Sapphire Crystal, he’s come to speak about the NSA as well. After having actually headed to the White House on the 17th of December, 2013, to speak with the President about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, here Cook suggests that he wishes he could say more.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 24, 2014

How Much Do Americans Really Care About Online Privacy?  Five free Chrome tools for faster, easier searches;  Privacy and the Connected Car;  What you need to know about SD cards;  US govt watchdog slams NSA snooping as illegal;  Is That Site Legit? Google Search Update Helps You Find Out;  Avira Online Essentials gets it right;  Facebook Hilariously Debunks Princeton Study;  Bill Gates: I assume my phone’s not being tapped;  SanDisk’s ULLtraDIMM is an SSD on a RAM stick;  Malware infects Android-run devices via PCs;  An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science;  The internet is ‘a gift from God’ says Pope Francis.

How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages – The secret wage-theft agreements between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar are described in court papers obtained by PandoDaily as “an overarching conspiracy” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act, and at times it reads like something lifted straight out of the robber baron era that produced those laws. Today’s inequality crisis is America’s worst on record since statistics were first recorded a hundred years ago — the only comparison would be to the era of the railroad tycoons in the late 19th century. (recommended by Aseem S.)

Bill Gates: I assume my phone’s not being tapped – In some fascinating comments about privacy and security, the Microsoft co-founder admits that he does use e-mail to send confidential messages. And he expects a level of security from his gadgets. (Seriously? Nope, just another misrepresentation from one of those “you gotta believe me crowd” who have a monetary interest in downplaying the NSA’s history of a systematic attack on human rights.)

How Much Do Americans Really Care About Online Privacy? – According to a new poll by GlobalWebIndex published by The Guardian, 56% of Americans believe the Internet is eroding their personal privacy, but only a quarter of us are actually using tools like Tor to disguise our identity. The survey, which is actually just compiled market research data, shows that the United States is actually lagging behind the rest of the world in using privacy features and tools. Only 17% of Americans use VPNs – Virutal Private Networks – so we can browse the web anonymously. That compares to 38% of those in Brazil, 36% in Thailand, and 34% in China, India and Mexico.

What you need to know about SD cards – I’ve seen this happen over and over again: A new, simple-to-use technology arrives, with its own new acronym. Then someone improves upon it, extending the acronym. Then there’s another one. Soon you’ve got a market of confusing alphabet soup. So let’s start with the basics. Secure Digital (SD) is the current standard for removable flash storage cards in mobile devices. They come in three physical sizes with numerous speeds and capacities.

Chrome 32 takes Windows 8.1 way beyond any Windows 8 app – If you use Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 and are a Google fanatic, you’re going to love the latest version of Chrome. It’s a standard browser for the desktop; it’s a browser app for the Start Screen; it’s the Chrome OS; it’s an oddity and much more, all in a neat little package. You really have to see it to believe it. I’ll describe how to download, install, and use Google Chrome 32 in Windows 8.1.

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Travel The World From Your Web Browser With This Beautiful Instagram Hack – French hacker Benjamin Netter recently released a cool hack called Somewhere, an addictive jukebox machine for travel destinations using Instagram, Foursquare and Wikipedia data — the most impressive part of this simple hack is that people are spending 13 minutes on average on the website.

Five benchmarking tools to diagnose or compare PC performance – Benchmarking tools are useful for diagnosing PC performance problems or quantifying a comparison between the performance of two machines. Given the usefulness of benchmarking software, it’s no surprise that there are countless benchmarking utilities available on the market. Here are five such utilities.

Five free Chrome tools for faster, easier searches – Your search for the perfect search is over. Five free tools from the Chrome Web Store work with the Chrome browser to make searching easier, or help you tweak your search queries to minimize unwanted results. If you want to delve only into Wikipedia, or if you want to ignore certain sites—especially ones that seem suspect—you can do it with one of these helpers.

Express Metrix Introduces Free, Full-Featured Software License Compliance Solution to Help More Organizations Achieve Audit Readiness – In a software industry first,Express Metrix, a leading provider of IT and software asset management (SAM) solutions, today released a free, full-featured version of its enterprise-class software compliance solution to help more organizations overcome budget or resource restrictions and achieve audit-ready license status. The solution is designed to enable small to midsize organizations with limited budget to achieve software compliance. It is also ideal for larger companies contemplating a broader investment in SAM to test and prove the value of a best-of-breed SAM solution for their organization. (registration required.)

How Google Calendar can tip off your boss that you want a raise – Google heavily promoted this time-saving feature during the rollout of its mail and calendar services. But as documented as early as 2010, the behavior can also result in the leakage of private information for people who are unaware of it. Alas, almost four years later, it’s still catching some people by surprise. Blogger Terence Eden explained how an entry his wife put in her personal Google Calendar made its way to her boss. It read: “e-mail [boss’s address] to discuss pay rise” and included a date a few months in the future. The boss quickly received the reminder as an entry in her own Google Calender.

Federal judge rules IP address alone not proof of copyright infringement – All too often, we hear about web users who are targeted by litigators and law enforcement agencies, and accused of downloading copyrighted material on the basis of no more evidence than an IP address. But a pivotal ruling by a federal judge may have a significant impact on future lawsuits by copyright holders.

Avira Online Essentials gets it right – What makes Avira Online Essentials so remarkable is the minimal barrier to entry. The dashboard not only displays which devices have what installed, but also a basic status update for each device. Instead of confusing you with system-level detail, Avira’s dashboard displays only the essentials like the number of files scanned, the number of infections, and the number of scanning errors. Whether you’re running it on Android, iOS, or Windows, the interface remains a cohesive experience across platforms.

ManageEngine Launches PitStop Online IT Community – ManageEngine, the real-time IT management company, today launched PitStop, the user community for all IT professionals. PitStop sets itself apart from other IT communities by providing a cascading, Facebook-like wall for users to share and discuss topics and trends with the PitStop community at large. Users can also tailor PitStop to their individual interests by subscribing to specific groups and pages, enabling them to virtually collaborate, share and engage with colleagues in their domain.

Is That Site Legit? Google Search Update Helps You Find Out – The Web giant on Tuesday announced a tweak to its search function that shows more information about certain websites on the search results page. Simply click on the small gray name underneath the link to get more information about a site. At this point, the feature is only available when you search Google on your desktop.

Pinterest adds GIF support – If Tumblr isn’t satiating your GIF needs, Pinterest might become your new favorite stomping ground — the company has announced on its blog new support for GIFs, adding an element of easy-to-browse animations to the picture-pinning social network. To get people in the mood, it also collected together some of its favorites for all to enjoy.

Feds arrest “most hated man on the Internet” in revenge porn hacking case – As the founder of one of the first highly profitable sites to post nude photos of people against their will, 27-year-old Hunter Moore had already been branded the most hated man on the Internet. On Thursday, he was arrested on federal charges claiming that he paid a man to break into the e-mail accounts of hundreds of victims and steal sexually explicit images that later showed up on Moore’s notorious isanyoneup.com site.

SanDisk’s ULLtraDIMM is an SSD on a RAM stick – Dubbed the ULLtraDIMM, SanDisk’s new DIMM SSD isn’t an entirely new concept, but is still quite rare. Unlike a traditional stick of volatile RAM, the oddly capitalized ULLtraDIMMs will retain data even after you’ve powered down. Considering their connections, SanDisk’s sticks can boast super low latency speeds to meet the requirements of enterprise applications — a write latency of under five microseconds, and a read latency of just 150 microseconds.

Facebook Hilariously Debunks Princeton Study Saying It Will Lose 80% Of Users – Last week Princeton researchers released a widely covered study saying Facebook would lose 80% of its users by 2015-2017. But now Facebook’s data scientists have turned the study’s idiotic “correlation equals causation” methodology of tracking Google search volume against it to show Princeton would lose all of its students by 2021.

Privacy and the Connected Car – During a recent CES keynote address, comments by Ford executive vice president Jim Farley sparked a controversy over privacy and the connected car that quickly turned into a (timely) conflagration. “We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it,” Farley said. “We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.” He then added, that “we don’t supply that data to anyone,” or sell the information to third parties. Farley apologized the following day and said in an interview with CNBC that “we do not monitor and aggregate data on how people drive. I’ve given people the wrong impression. I regret that.” (BS – when the truth is uncomfortable – deflect, lie, confuse.)

Hands-on with WerYoo: Free social networking photo app maps your moves – New GPS-based iPhone app lets you shoot, share immediately, and precisely map your location.

Whistle review: Activity trackers go to the dogs – Just what does your dog do all day? Sleep for eight hours straight? Run around your living room in circles? Go on lengthy walks with your dog walker? Whistle, an activity tracker for dogs—yes, you read that correctly—can help you find out.

Security:

1.1 Million Cards Compromised in Neiman Marcus Hack – Neiman Marcus this week revealed that some 1.1 million credit and debit cards may have been compromised by hackers who had access to its system for several months last year.

Google fails to release patch for Chrome’s voice recognition exploit – Google has failed to reach an agreement to release a patch, leaving users vulnerable to hackers. The exploit allows spies to continue recording conversations through Chrome’s voice recognition app.

Malware infects Android-run devices via PCs – First, it drops a malicious DLL and registers it as a system service. Then it contacts a remote server and downloads a configuration file from it. The information contained in it allows it to download a malicious APK (Android application package) file, as well as and Android Debug Bridge tool if necessary. The latter enables the malware to install the malicious APK to any Android based device the victim connects to the computer. Once installed, the malware attempts to hide its presence by posing as a “Google App Store” application, and in the background it searches for online banking apps that the user has installed.

Foscam IP camera bug lets anyone view and record live footage – One of the most important uses of IP cameras is for remotely viewing places or people for safety and security purposes. But in a rather ironic turn of events, a number of Foscam IP cameras have been discovered to be easily compromised, giving anyone with an Internet connection access to what the camera is seeing as well.

Company News:

Microsoft: $24.52 billion in revenue, $6.56 billion in net income for fiscal Q2 2014 – Microsoft has announced that for the fourth calendar quarter of 2013 (which is considered the second quarter of 2014 in Microsoft’s fiscal year) the company generated $24.52 billion in revenues, along with $6.56 billion in net income. This compares to $21.46 billion in revenues and $6.38 billion in net income from the same period a year ago. Both the revenue and income numbers were ahead of expectations from financial analysts.

Google hints at future bitcoin support for their payment services – Google seems to be curious about bitcoin. Some e-mails that were made public show the company is looking at ways of supporting the digital currency and integrating it into their payments services.

Google denies rumor of Google Mobile Services licensing fees – A recent report surfaced that practically accused Google of charging manufacturers a rather hefty fee to license its Google Mobile Services on Android. The Android maker has now come out to deny such a business practice, though some of its recent moves might make some remain a bit cautious.

Qualcomm Buys Massive Palm, iPaq And Bitfone Patent Portfolio From HP – Is Qualcomm preparing for the revival of the personal digital assistant? The San Diego-based Qualcomm just announced that it has acquired 1,400 patents from HP covering Palm, iPaq and Bitfone patents and pending patents. It’s unclear how many are from each portfolio, but Qualcomm just made a big leap in owning a chunk of patents covering the fundamentals of mobile operating system…

Microsoft: Office 365 Home Premium now has 3.5 million subscribers – Microsoft launched its consumer oriented Office 365 Home Premium service just under a year ago and now it appears that the subscription service has done very well in its first year. Today, as part of its financial report for its last fiscal quarter, which ended December 31st, Microsoft said it now has 3.5 million subscribers for Office 365 Home Premium.

Samsung Profit Growth Slows Down, As Galaxy Faces Heat From iPhone And Cheaper Rivals – Samsung’s latest financial results underscored slowing growth in the smartphone business and its increased rivalry with Apple, which seems to be closing the gap, at least in the U.S. Samsung reported its first decline in quarterly profit in two years for the December quarter. Fourth quarter net income was 7.22 trillion won ($6.7 billion), lower than what the analysts had expected.

US retailer TigerDirect accepts Bitcoin payments – The retailer of electronics and computing products gives the digital currency a bit more legitimacy and utility by accepting Bitcoin payments.

App Revenue In Asia Grew A Massive 162% In 2013, Driven By Google Play – Over the past two years, Asia has emerged as the world’s top marketplace for apps–and it’s still growing. Revenue in Asia rose by a massive 162% in 2013, “annihilating” growth in all other continents, according to a new report by Distimo. Furthermore, that increase was fueled in large part by Google Play, where revenue from Asia more than quadrupled in 2013.

Games and Entertainment:

A Titanfall alpha battle report – Titanfall is a game that requires a flawless multiplayer experience and a well-thought-out training environment. The game is designed such that you are thrown right into combat, so it is important to have the basics covered when you head into a match. When the game begins, there’s way too much going on between the 12 players, the 12 Titan AI, and the other characters on the field for traditional multiplayer glitches to be acceptable.

Apple reportedly working on set-top box with gaming capabilities – A report from iLounge claims Apple will update its currently Apple TV product line to include gaming support. The report claims Apple TV would gain the capabilities through the use of Bluetooth, and previous iterations of the device will support games, though it’s not known if they would be stored locally or in the cloud.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor looks like it can be the best Lord of the Rings game – While there have been several video games set in Middle-earth, most of them are not great. Outside of the games that follow along with the movies, there’s been very little creativity despite being set within in a truly massive set of stories. The latest entry into this world looks like an entirely different animal, with an impressive physics engine and promises of wholly unique gameplay experiences. If they can pull it off, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor looks like it could be the shining example of single player gameplay in the future.

Microsoft: 3.9 million Xbox One units sold to retail stores – Microsoft announced today that it sold 3.9 million Xbox One units to retail stores in its last quarter, along with 3.5 million Xbox 360 consoles, for a total of 7.4 million Xbox devices.

Table Top Racing for Android Will Bring Back Your Love of Hot Wheels – Racing games don’t always have to be serious business, and a mobile device is a perfect venue for the more casual side of racing. The newest entrant in the Android side of things is Table Top Racing, a game with tiny cars battling it out on tracks lined with oversized obstacles. Well, they’re actually the right size and the cars are tiny.

The 10 Greatest Early Mac Games – There were some ground-breaking games that came to the Mac first. If you want to play any of these games, the best way is through an early Mac emulator. The emulator “mini vMac” pretends to be a Mac Plus and does a good job of emulating games from 1984-1987.

Off Topic (Sort of):

FINALLY, a Powered Cup That Automates Your Drinking – It’s 2014 and we’re still here manually sipping our favorite bevarines like a planet full of absolute savages. There’s GOT to be a better way! The cup is loosely positioned as a medical aid for people who have just had their wisdom teeth pulled or who have just had surgery. It even goes a step further, claiming that manually sucking your drinks up through a savage-straw can lead to wrinkles – ergo, the cup prevents wrinkles, right?

An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science – It’s likely to be a familiar story to my scientist colleagues in Australia, the UK, the US, and elsewhere around the world. But if you’re not a scientist and are genuinely trying to work out who to believe when it comes to climate change, then it’s a story you need to hear, too. Because while the New Zealand fight over climate data appears to finally be over, it’s part of a much larger, ongoing war against evidence-based science.

Prisoner rats himself out with Facebook selfie of cell-grown cannabis – One of the most stupid selfies ever: a Polish prisoner’s photo, taken on a contraband mobile phone smuggled into the prison, showing a lush, equally contraband and definitely illegal cannabis plant he grew from seed in his cell.

Could your heart power its own pacemaker? – From battery life to pure life, new research shows we’re getting closer to a future where important implanted and wearable health devices could run on power collected from our own organs.

The internet is ‘a gift from God’ says Pope Francis – The pontiff’s central thesis is that “media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all”. “The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity,” Francis writes. “This is something truly good, a gift from God.” But it’s not all tweetness and light, Francis says, offering the following analysis of some downsides of online communities……

GameStop thief called ahead to pre-order the Xbox One he stole – A Nashville man decided to carry out a robbery at a GameStop store in Madison last week and successfully managed to get away with the goods he wanted as well as a large amount of cash. But it’s not the actual robbery that’s surprising here, it’s the way he went about selecting the items to steal.

Ceres, the largest asteroid known, is spewing water into space – New findings show that Ceres, the largest known asteroid, spews enormous jets of water, ice, and other frozen material into space — and astronomers don’t know why.

How Much Google And Other Tech Companies Spent On D.C. Lobbyists In One Chart – Tech companies shelled out over $61 million to influence America’s political leaders in 2013, with Google leading the pack at a handsome $14 million. From high-skilled immigration reform to regulation, tech companies have become increasingly forced to preempt limitations imposed by policymakers. The graph below is based on figures compiled by Consumer Watchdog from the House Clerks disclosure database.

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Study of French “three strikes” piracy law finds no deterrent effect – A recently published study of 2,000 French Internet users found that the widely-publicized “three strikes” law hasn’t had much effect on how pirates get their content. It’s not all bad news for the recording industry, though: the authors cite another 2014 study which found that iTunes has seen a 20-25 percent increase in sales of French music just prior to implementation of the law. However, the authors attribute the increased sales to “public educational efforts,” not to the deterrent effect of the law.

Something to think about:

Travellers should be aware that Russian federal law permits the monitoring, retention and analysis of all data that traverses Russian communication networks, including Internet browsing, email messages, telephone calls, and fax transmissions.”

–      The U.S. State Department’s website for travellers to Sochi.

Today’s Free Downloads:

Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit – Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit is a handy and reliable application designed to scan, detect and clean malicious rootkits that reside on your computer. The archive also includes a handy utility that repairs the damage caused by the presence of rootkits. This operation requires a reboot in order to apply the fixes.

WinPatrol – WinPatrol takes snapshot of your critical system resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without your knowledge. WinPatrol was the pioneer in using a heuristic behavioral approach to detecting attacks and violations of your computing environment. Now, using our “Cloud” technology you can benefit from the experience of other WinPatrol users. WinPatrol continues to be the most powerful system monitor for its small memory footprint. WinPatrol’s easy tabbed interface allows you to explore deep inside your computer without having to be a computer expert. A one-time investment in WinPatrol PLUS provides a unique experience you won’t find in any other software. (Highly recommended.)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden Answers Our Burning Data Collection Question: What’s The Worst That Could Happen? – National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is answering the Internet’s burning questions. Surprisingly, he was even gracious enough to answer my question: “What’s the worst and most realistic harm from bulk collection of data? Why do you think it outweighs national security?” I posted the full response Snowden gave me below. In essence, he argues that the government’s bulk storage of our digital lives causes self-censorship and opens up the potential for severe abuse. “Study after study has show that human behavior changes when we know we’re being watched. Under observation, we act less free, which means we effectively are less free,” he wrote. He also notes that mass-spying, “enables a capability called “retroactive investigation,” where once you come to the government’s attention, they’ve got a very complete record of your daily activity going back, under current law, often as far as five years.”

US govt watchdog slams NSA snooping as illegal, useless against terrorism – The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a federal panel set up to advise the US government on policy, has published report concluding that the bulk collection of data on US citizens by the NSA is illegal and ineffective at stopping terrorism. “Based on the information provided to the board, including classified briefings and documentation, we have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation,” the report stated. The 238-page study found that the NSA’s policy of collecting vast amounts of metadata using Section 215 of the Patriot Act was illegal, and raised serious concerns with regard to breaking the First and Fourth Amendments – covering freedom of speech and unlawful search and seizure of evidence.

Snowden speaks: NSA spies create ‘databases of ruin’ on innocent folks – Ex-NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden used his first public Q&A to call for the US to lead a global initiative to ban mass surveillance of populations. He also wants governments to ensure that intelligence agencies can protect national security while not invading everyday privacy. “Not all spying is bad. The biggest problem we face right now is the new technique of indiscriminate mass surveillance, where governments are seizing billions and billions and billions of innocents’ communication every single day,” he said. “This is done not because it’s necessary – after all, these programs are unprecedented in US history, and were begun in response to a threat that kills fewer Americans every year than bathtub falls and police officers – but because new technologies make it easy and cheap.

Obama in awkward spot after privacy board calls NSA snooping illegal – A report Thursday by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) calling the National Security Agency’s bulk phone records collection program illegal and mostly useless puts the Obama administration in an awkward spot. Less than a week ago, President Obama had described the program as vital to the NSA’s anti-terror effort.

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 23, 2014

How to Make Your Smartphone Smarter;  Social media lockdown: 4 privacy features;  Consumer Watchdog files Google+ complaint;  Chromebook power tips;  Chrome lets websites secretly record you?  13 Websites to Avoid;  5 upcoming Android phones;   Snapchat’s new verification already hacked;  Logmein Alternatives;  Google launches YouTube speed test;  Snowden, in rare interview;  Retail is RIDDLED with malware and bots;  Take control of your mobile number with Google Voice.

Google Glass User Detained By Feds Talks About Ordeal – The programmer has asked that we not reveal his name. “I am trying to limit my ‘celebrity,’” he said. He has special prescription lenses inserted into his device and wears them almost all the time. He is a Balkan immigrant and is working towards citizenship. He graduated from Ohio State University and now works as a network engineer.

Social media lockdown: 4 privacy features you won’t find in your settings – You use a social network—at least one, maybe a few. Everyone does. You probably know all about your preferred network’s privacy settings, enough to make sure that the whole world doesn’t know your business. But if you’re paranoid—aren’t we all?—you can find ways to lock down your privacy that go above and beyond even two-factor authentication.

Take control of your mobile number with Google Voice – When you sign up for a free Google Voice account, Google gives you a free phone number. Incoming calls can simultaneously ring on up to six phones linked to your account. Outbound calls can be placed using the Google Voice Android or iOS app, or from Google Voice on the web. Unfortunately, Google Voice remains a U.S. only service as of January 2014.

Logmein Kills Free Remote Access Service, Here Are Some Alternatives – Users of the non-subscription tier of Logmein got some bad news yesterday–the service is being discontinued in favor of a subscription-only model. It’s not unusual for an app or service to migrate from free to paid operation, but the timing here is odd. Logmein retired the free service the same day it announced the change. Now the clock is ticking and customers have seven days to buy a subscription or find a replacement app.

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How to Make Your Smartphone Smarter – Whether it’s a text from a wrong number in the middle of the night or a call that comes in during a meeting, our indispensable smartphones have a way of intruding at exactly the wrong time. Wouldn’t it be great if your smartphone were smart enough to know what you were doing? With the right apps, it can feel as though it does. Here’s how to make your smartphone smarter.

Chromebook power tips: Work smarter online and off – Bet you don’t know everything Chrome OS can do: keyboard shortcuts, Chromecast capers, and yes, offline productivity.

Site24x7 Launches First Free Cloud Service to Ensure Your On-Premise Monitoring Products Are Working Effectively – Site24x7, the cloud infrastructure monitoring service from ManageEngine, today announced the launch of the first free, cloud-based service to monitor traditional on-premise network, system and application monitoring products. Available immediately, this new service enables IT groups to monitor the monitors themselves to make sure the software that companies rely on is working effectively — which is critical for the continuity of operations.

Step into another skin with Everyday Racism app – A new free app for iOS and Android lets you experience a small slice of what life’s like in Australia as an Indian student, a Muslim woman, or an Aboriginal man.

VLC for iPhone and iPad Updated to v2.2 With New UI, Dropbox Streaming, and More – From the moment you open VLC Player version 2.2, you’ll know something is different. The distinctive orange color now extends up into the status bar area, and the file list has been redesigned as a series of narrow bands on iPhone and tiles on iPad—it’s a very nice look. The player UI also makes use of the frosted glass effect when you pull the controls up, which is actually a good use for it (unlike some other parts of the OS).

Windows 8.1 Update Will Contain Improvements To Metro Apps – This morning Paul Thurrott detailed a number of tweaks that will appear in the 2014 update of Windows 8.1. Screenshots from WZor confirm a few of Paul’s earlier notes on upcoming changes to Windows 8.x that are worth discussing.

13 Websites to Avoid If You Value Your Time – It’s not because they suck, but because they suck time. They cause a rift in the space-time continuum that will have you wondering just how you managed to waste so many hours and get nothing in return except the fleeting joy of kitten pictures, pratfall videos, and other memes. What they all have in common is they’re pretty damn popular. Hey, we know you like a good time-waster. So do we.

Google’s Knowledge Graph Now Being Used To Enhance Individual Search Results – Google’s Knowledge Graph is getting baked into actual search results, the company is announcing today. In a blog post on its official Search Blog, Google explains how you’re now able to learn more about the topics you’re searching for by clicking names that appear next to a given link in your search results. These additional, informational widgets are only appearing in desktop searches at present.

iPhone 5s Owners Gobbling “Unprecedented” Levels Of Data, Study Finds – A large-scale survey of mobile data consumption in 2013 conducted by JDSU has found flagship smartphone device users are continuing to outpace the data consumption rates of tablet users. But the most data thirsty phone users of all have an iPhone 5s burning a hole in their pocket — and they are responsible for “unprecedented” levels of data gobbling.

Seagate hard drives exhibit surprisingly high failures rates in reliability test, Hitachi leads the pack – The results of hard drive reliability tests conducted by online backup company Backblaze show that Seagate lags far behind competitors when it comes to the dependability of their products.

Windows Phone sales are actually beating iPhone in 27 countries – It looks as though 2013 was a pretty big year for Windows Phone. Despite the fact that it’s still looked at as a major underdog in the mobile fight, devices running Microsoft’s mobile OS are actually outselling the iPhone in 27 different countries. Where is Windows Phone hot? Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia. It has shoved its way past the iPhone in Mexico and Columbia, Italy and Greece, and India and Pakistan. In Nokia’s home country, Windows Phone is beating the iPhone, too. Forbes has the full list of countries, and there are some common threads.

5 upcoming Android phones that are worth waiting for – If you’re on the fence about the current crop of smartphones, consider what’s coming up later this year before you get an Android phone that’s already a few months old — that’s eons in phone years. Device makers are working on the lineup for 2014, and we’re going to be bombarded with new devices before you know it. Let’s see what upcoming Android phones are going to be worth your upgrade…

Microsoft launches rethinkie.com, a showcase of the modern web – Microsoft has released a new website that showcases many of the projects the IE team has created over the past few years to highlight modern web capabilities and the team is now looking ahead at 2014.

American consumers desert PCs for most mundane chore – Traditional PCs were used at historically low rates last quarter to open emails, another sign that a long-time task of those notebooks and desktops has been hijacked by mobile devices, an email-centric firm said today.

Consumer Watchdog files Google+ complaint with FTC – Google, through its plan to link Gmail addresses to its Google+ social network, is violating a privacy agreement the company made with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, said a long-time critic of the company’s privacy practices in a complaint to the agency. Google+ also has a “flagrant and fundamental privacy design flaw” because it allows any user to add other users to his circles without their permission, frequent Google critic Consumer Watchdog said in the complaint.

Security:

Chrome lets websites secretly record you? Google says no, but… – A design flaw in the Chrome browser can allow malicious websites to use your computer’s microphone to eavesdrop on you, one developer has claimed, although Google denies that this is the case. “Even while not using your computer – conversations, meetings and phone calls next to your computer may be recorded and compromised,” Israeli developer Tal Ater wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. According to Ater, the vulnerability arises when sites aren’t completely forthright about when they are using the microphone.

Parents want transparency from schools concerning use of student data – A new survey suggests that the majority of American adults are concerned about how student data is collected, stored and shared in schools.

Snapchat’s new verification already hacked – Security researcher shows that the service’s new “find the ghost” system to prove that you’re a human and not a bot can be easily tricked.

Steve Hickson’s graphic shows points on a Snapchat ghost extracted from its image recognition system that his script matched against a Snapchat ghost template he created. (Credit: Steve Hickson)

Not Enough Evidence the Internet of Things Botnet Actually Exists – There was a report last week about a spam botnet using “Internet of Things” devices—a refrigerator, even!—but the evidence supporting this claim feels a little circumstantial.

When ZOMBIES go shopping: 40m Target customer breach? That’s NOTHING! – Retail is RIDDLED with malware and bots – survey – Malware linked to fraud in the retail sector may be a bigger problem than even the recent revelation about the compromise of systems US retailer Target suggests. Analysis of 139 US retailers from November 2013 until 12 January 2014 by net security firm BitSight found 1,035 instances of unique malware infections actively communicating with attackers from inside corporate networks: 7.5 on average per company.

ShapeShifter: Beatable, But We’ll Hear More About It – A California company called Shape Security claims that their network box can disable malware attacks, by using polymorphism to rewrite webpages before they are sent to the user’s browser. Most programmers will immediately spot several ways that the system can be defeated, but it may still slow attackers down or divert them towards other targets.” Read on for the rest of Bennett’s thoughts.

Company News:

Netflix Downplays Court’s Net Neutrality Decision, Says Internet Providers Unlikely To Act – In the letter to shareholders that accompanied today’s earnings report, Netflix addresses the recent circuit court decision that was seen as a threat to net neutrality. That decision could potentially be a problem for Netflix, because it could provide legal justification for Internet providers to reduce the speed at which Netflix video content is delivered unless the company pays the providers.

Google launches YouTube speed test, takes a swipe at slow ISPs – Google thinks ISPs aren’t holding up their end of the internet bargain. The company’s new tool lets users easily avoid companies Google says are slowing the flow of information.

OpenBSD won’t CloseBSD (for now) after $100,000 cash windfall – The cash-strapped OpenBSD Foundation has raised $100,000, potentially saving it from the brink of oblivion. The Foundation has had pledges of “around” $100,000 from individuals and organisations following its appeal to cover a $20,000 server electricity bill. The group claimed 1,704 donations “large and small.”

Motorola reveals plans for $50 smartphone, more device customization – Motorola raised quite a few eyebrows last year with the launch of its affordable Moto G handset, but the company is planning an even bigger push at the very lowest end of the market. While rivals such as Nokia aggressively pursue the entry level of the market with low-cost-high-value handsets, Motorola has revealed that it is keen to deliver even more affordable smartphones.

Lenovo agrees to buy IBM’s server business for $2.3 billion – Lenovo Group has agreed to buy IBM’s x86 server hardware business and related maintenance services for US$2.3 billion, it announced Thursday. Trading in shares of Lenovo was halted on Thursday morning on the Hong Kong stock exchange ahead of the announcement.

Toshiba purchase of OCZ finalized, first new products released – The bankruptcy and subsequent sale appear to have done little to interrupt OCZ’s operations. The company today announced the latest generation of Vertex-branded SSDs, the Vertex 460. The SATA disks are available in 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacities, with sequential read and write speeds of 545MBps and 525MBps, respectively; integrated AES-256 encryption; and an endurance of 20GB per day of writes for three years.

TiVo reportedly lays off much of its hardware team – DVR maker laid off “most” of its hardware engineers, according to Wired, but a spokesperson denies that the company is getting out of the hardware business.

Games and Entertainment:

Hearthstone: How to make gold, get cards, and succeed free – Blizzard’s free-to-play digital CCG Hearthstone has finally hit open beta, but is it truly free to play? With these tips it could be.

New SteamOS beta ISO offers support for BIOS-based PCs and more – Valve released the first beta version of its Linux-based SteamOS over a month ago, but gave plenty of warnings that this first build was for the highly advanced PC owner and not for the timid. This week, the developer released a new version that gets it a bit closer to the normal PC user.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a game where a man in a mariachi outfit dismembers giant robots with his electric sword. What more needs to be said?

Off Topic (Sort of):

Coolest, most realistic paper airplane ever – Luca Iaconi-Stewart’s Boeing 777-300ER is made entirely from manila folders. He’s been working on it since 2008, and now it’s almost finished.

Old Spice Is Back With Another Set Of Viral Things – This Time, It’s Prank Websites – After a short break, Old Spice — otherwise known as “that company that makes really, really good ads and, I don’t know, deodorant or something” — is back with another campaign that proves their ad team is one of very few that can repeatedly and intentionally make things that go viral. This time around, it’s prank websites.

Study: Facebook to Lose 80 Percent of Users, Become the Next MySpace – Just like an infectious disease, social networks can spread rapidly, gaining millions of users in a short amount of time, and then abruptly die off. It happened to MySpace, and Facebook could be next, according to a new study from Princeton University.

Netflix CEO: Curse you, password sharing! – On what’s typically a snoozy earnings discussion, Reed Hastings shares what he claims is the log-in info for the head of rival HBO. And the password would make your grandma gasp.

Wanted man shares police Facebook update (his mugshot) – Police in Pennsylvania say that a man wanted on assault charges shared their status about his mug shot on his own Facebook page. This leads, stunningly, to his arrest.

30 Years After ‘1984’: A Look Back at Apple’s Mac Commercials – The spot, directed by Ridley Scott, aired during Super Bowl XVIII. It opened on a Big Brother-type leader speaking to the sheepish gray masses from a massive screen. A female athlete in full color soon runs in, however, shattering Big Brother’s image with a throw of a sledgehammer. “On January 24th Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984,’” the tagline read.

Something to think about:

No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.”

–      Henry Adams

Today’s Free Downloads:

Listen N Write – Listen N Write can be used to play and transcribe ordinary WAV or MP3 recordings. Listen N Write has special features simplifying the transcription work as you can control via keys (while using its integrated word processor) and insert time markers (bookmarks). Moreover, the audio stream is automatically rewinded a few seconds when pressing the Stop key. Listen N Write can be considered the standard program for any transcription because of its simplicity of use and small size.

Why Can’t I Connect? – “Why Can’t I Connect” makes it easier to resolve TCP/IP connection errors. Use it to diagnose connections to common server types and create generic clients and / or servers. A source tar, a 32 bit rpm, a 32 bit deb, and a 32 bit Windows install exe are available.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden, in rare interview, denies all accusations of help from Moscow – Snowden again underscored that “in nine months, no one has credibly shown any harm to national security” from his revelations, “nor any ill intent.” Moreover, he pointed out that “the President himself admitted both that changes are necessary and that he is certain the debate my actions started will make us stronger.” Snowden concluded by saying that he “knew what he was getting into” when he set this entire operation into motion. “At least the American public has a seat at the table now,” he said. “It may sound trite,” but if “I end up disgraced in a ditch somewhere, but it helps the country, it will still be worth it.”

Verizon’s transparency report shows more than 320,000 US data slurping order – Verizon has published its first transparency report detailing how often governments come calling for customer records and conversations – and the results show the amount of stuff Google, Microsoft and others hand over is just a drop in the ocean by comparison. Last year the network operator received 321,545 requests for customer data from US law enforcement, including 6,312 tap-and-trace demands and 1,496 orders to wiretap subscribers’ calls. In addition, the company was subject to between 1,000 and 2,000 national security letters – a presidentially issued order to hand over data, the details of which cannot be revealed.

Microsoft offers to store foreign customers’ personal data on servers outside the U.S. – One day after Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith proposed that an international convention establish the legal framework for government access to data, he took that idea a step further today and said that the company will now offer its foreign customers a way to store personal data on servers that are based outside the U.S. The idea is that the content would be out of the reach of organizations such as the National Security Agency.

Privacy dominates tech execs’ discussion at Davos – Internet users will never have total privacy, a group of chief executives of communication and Internet companies said Wednesday. “I don’t think we as a society want 100 percent privacy,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. “But I think the debate is right.”

“I don’t think we as a society want 100 percent privacy,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson – Yep, you’re right – You don’t think!

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