Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 15, 2014

Download.com – Top downloads of 2013;  Geek 101: How to send large files; Free 12Hours Color-codes Your Schedule;  Jailbreak your iOS 7 device;  There’s Probably Poop On Your Cellphone;  The Credit Card is Dead; Now What Do We Do?  Wireless keyboard brings 128-bit encryption;  Tech support scammers target smartphone/tablet users;  Banking mobile apps largely vulnerable;  Net Neutrality Threatened;  Blackphone: A smartphone designed to stop spying eyes.

Download.com – Top downloads of 2013 – You voted with your clicks: These are the most popular Windows and Mac apps of the year on Download.com.

Circuit Court Of Appeals Strikes Down FCC’s Open Internet Order, Net Neutrality Threatened – In a decision that could have far-reaching consequences, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals today struck down the FCC’s Open Internet Order. That Order, put into force in 2010 by then-chairman Julius Genachowski, was designed to make it so that broadband service providers couldn’t meddle with specific kinds of internet traffic – in other words, they couldn’t block certain kinds of online data transmission just because it didn’t align with their own goals and financial strategy.

Geek 101: How to send large files – The time has come to stop trying to use email to send large files over the internet. Even if your email provider lets you send huge files as attachments, there are simply too many better ways to get information from point A to point B with very little effort. Here’s a quick list of some of the best ways you can send large files across the internet.

Kill your data dead with these essential tips and tools – Whatever your reason for wanting to get rid of old files, here’s how to make sure sensitive information is truly deceased.

12Hours Color-codes Your Schedule and Puts it on a Clock Widget – 12Hours is a new Android widget that aims to make your hectic life a little easier to manage at a glance. This is a clock widget that lives on your home screen, but it uses subtle wedges of color to help you track upcoming appointments. Best of all, it’s completely free.

Prepare your body parts for more! 24 wearables to watch in 2014 – With so many smartwatches, smartglasses, and activity trackers on the way, you’ll quickly run out of enough body parts to support them all.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Jailbreak your iOS 7 device – You’re only a few minutes away from a jailbroken iOS 7 device, running your favorite tweaks, and experimenting with new features.

Chrome 32 Launches With Tab Indicators For Sound And Video, Improved Malware Blocking & New Win8 Metro Design – Version 32 includes many of the features that recently arrived in the beta channel, including improved malware blocking and tab indicators for when a site is playing sound, accessing the webcam and sending video to your Chromecast. Google uses a speaker icon, blue rectangle and red dot to indicate these different functions.

Want a solid Android calendar app with style? Try Cal – I’m always on the hunt for a good calendar app. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and features. Many of them lack equal parts usability and style. However, Cal: Android Calendar & Widget is as slick looking as it is usable.

Horizon for iPhone and iPad Films Landscape Videos in Any Orientation – It’s a widescreen world, and there is no better way to earn the scorn of the internet than posting a video shot with a smartphone in portrait mode. However, it’s often easier and safer to hold a device in portrait orientation when filming a video. That’s where Horizon comes in. This app uses your device’s gyroscope to make sure the video is always in landscape, even when the phone isn’t.

Windows 8.1 Public Preview expires Wednesday – PC users who still have the public preview version of Windows 8.1 installed on their machine will have that version expire on Wednesday, with the OS restarting the PC every two hours afterwards.

Taking the long view: Why I’m moving to CentOS Linux on the desktop – CentOS has long been considered a server operating system, but it is a very capable and stable platform for the desktop as well with long term support.

Google Drive Adds Activity Stream, Makes Tracking Changes To Shared Documents Easier – Google today added an activity stream to Google Drive that finally makes it easier for its users to track changes to documents that are shared with multiple users. This feature, Google says, will roll out over the next week, so it may be a few days before you will see it in your account.

Matias Secure Pro wireless keyboard brings 128-bit encryption – Matias has put its new wireless keyboard, the Secure Pro, up for pre-order on its website. With the keyboard, which is compact in nature and has a no-nonsense business design, comes wireless connectivity and 128-bit AES encryption to keep data away from prying eyes, which the company says is the strongest encryption you can get with a wireless keyboard.

Free Window-Eyes reading software offered for Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013 users – Microsoft has announced it will offer a free copy of the Window-Eyes screen reading software from GW Micro for all Office 2010 and 2013 users to help people with visual impairments use Office.

Twitter advertising update allows targeting based on email addresses and IDs – Yesterday, Twitter revealed a refresh to its Web design, something still rolling out and ushering in another change, this one for the company’s advertising partners: the ability to target based on email addresses and Twitter user IDs. The announcement was made on the company’s advertising blog today, and expands the functionality to excluding users just the same, offering more control over all.

Google is Going to Blackmail You – Google is trying harder than ever to force people to sign up for Google Plus. And now, they’ve discovered a new strategy to do this: either you join Plus, or they’ll release your search history and all the private information they’ve learned about you over the years. (recommended by Delenn13)

YouTube adds comments page following user outcry – YouTube revealed last fall that Google+ would be integrated into its comment system, causing a sweeping overhaul to the video service and forcing many onto Google’s social network. The change went live by early November, and with the changes came a user outcry on multiple levels — from those who resented being pushed onto Google+, and from creators who found managing comments unnecessarily difficult as a result.

Security:

Fake security messages more believable than real warnings research shows – Cambridge University researchers reveal why people believe malicious, fake security messages and ignore real warnings.

Adobe patches Acrobat, Flash Player critical vulnerabilities – Adobe has issued updates to Acrobat, Reader and Flash Player to address critical vulnerabilities in those products.

Banking mobile apps largely vulnerable, reveals IOActive study – Personal banking apps make managing a checking or savings account easy, eschewing the need for a laptop or firing up a browser. Whether they keep your personal data secure is another matter, however, one that IOActive Labs Research says needs more attention. In a recent study, the research group looked into forty different so-called home banking apps from what it says are the world’s top 60 most influential banks, none of which were specified by name.

How RAM Scraper Malware Stole Data from Target, Neiman Marcus – Unnamed sources told Reuters over the weekend that the malware used in the attack was a RAM scraper. A RAM scraper is a specific type of malware which targets information stored in memory, as opposed to information saved on the hard drive or being transmitted over the network. While this class of malware is not new, security experts say there has been a recent uptick in the number of attacks against retailers using this technique.

Tech support scammers target smartphone and tablet users – Fake tech support scammers are now targeting smartphone and tablet users using traditional cold calling and online advertising….

It’s Microsoft Patch Tuesday: January 2014 – Here’s the information you need to make the right deploy decisions when applying Microsoft’s January 2014 patches in your organization.

Twitter enforces SSL encryption for apps connecting to its API – Twitter closes the end-user privacy gap in third-party apps that connected to its API in plaintext.

Company News:

It’s official: Winamp (and Shoutcast) saved via Radionomy purchase – As previously rumored, Radionomy has acquired the popular Winamp media player and the Shoutcast streaming audio service from AOL. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Huawei 2013 sales up 8 percent, below 10 percent goal – The Chinese telecoms gear maker attributed growth to improved efficiencies and cost cutting, but fell short of its annual revenue target.

Over 1 million units of the iPhone 5s shipped to China Mobile ahead of launch – Chinese ODM Foxconn has revealed that it has shipped over one million units of the iPhone 5s to China Mobile ahead of the smartphone’s launch on Friday on the world’s largest mobile network.

Mozilla receives first Firefox OS tablets from Foxconn – The Chinese manufacturing behemoth just sent the first batch of Firefox OS tablets to Mozilla so they can forge ahead with development.

Rumor: Apple to re-launch the four year old iPhone 4 in India – Apple is rumored to be relaunching the iPhone 4 in India. This comes after weak sales of the newest iOS devices that have priced themselves out of the market and are facing heavy competition.

Games and Entertainment:

The PC games we can’t wait to play in 2014 – Upcoming titles will range from gut-bustingly hilarious to drop-dead scary to downright charming. Bring’em on!

Tomb Raider PS4 release to instill new life into graphics – We’re having a peek at what it really means to take a game released to the PlayStation 3 and re-release it to PlayStation 4, fully revamped – in the graphics department, at least.

A dream come true: Become a cat with Catlateral Damage – Originally created for the August 2013 7DFPS game jam, Catlateral Damage lets you live the cat experience first-hand. Punch and swipe things with your paws, sending them tumbling to the floor below. The game comes in downloadable versions for Windows, OS X, and Linux, but you can play it in the browser with the Unity plugin as well.

YouTube launches daily web show produced by Dreamworks Animation – Today, YouTube has announced their new daily web show, YouTube Nation – a channel dedicated to content discovery, produced by DreamWorks and hosted by HuffPost Live founder Jacob Soboroff.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Dear Verizon, You Don’t Own The Internet—No One Does – Infrastructure is the bloodstream of an economy; if powerful established players controlled roads, telephone lines, and Internet cables, they could favor the highest bidder at the expense of the savvy entrepreneur, choking off the meritocracy that makes market economies so innovative. This is precisely why many in the Internet community are up in arms that a U.S. circuit court threw out the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality law, which prevented internet service providers from choosing which websites to favor with faster connection speeds.

Senator Al Franken Condemns Today’s Net Neutrality Ruling – On the heels of today’s ruling overturning net neutrality, Senator Al Franken aggressively condemned the decision, arguing that it would lead to an unleveling of the economic playing field, tilting the marketplace against small businesses that he represents. The Senator has long been an advocate of keeping the Internet free from meddling by corporate interests.

There’s Probably Poop On Your Cellphone – Yep, one in six phones have fecal matter on them. Luckily, two inventors have a solution.

What if Google was just a regular guy? – A hilarious, not-so-safe-for-work video imagines what an awful job it would be to handle all those search queries in person.

Watch Windows 8.1 apps floating inside a holographic conference room – Digital Video Enterprises has announced the DVE Immersion Room, which allows for holographic versions of Windows 8.1 apps to be seen and interacted with in mid-air for conference room use.

Acceptance of global warming rises on warm days – Last week, much of the United States experienced the coldest weather in two decades, as temperatures plummeted below freezing in many states. Many newscasters on conservative media outlets were using the record-breaking cold snap to deny the existence of global warming, making comments such as “All of this snow and still cries of global warming.” Similar claims appeared on social media.

The Credit Card is Dead; Now What Do We Do? – With recent data breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and other popular merchants, using a credit card for shopping is beginning to seem like a Bad Idea. Near Field Communication (NFC) payment systems like Google Wallet were supposed to make credit cards obsolete, but iOS devices don’t support NFC. Even in the Android realm, Google Wallet only works with specific phones. So what can we do? (Here’s a hint – use Credit Card/Debit Card chip technology, like the rest of the developed world. Duh!!)

Relive the 1990s with these ancient, still-functioning websites – Get a healthy dose of nostalgia with these Seinfeld-era websites that time could not kill.

Something to think about:

Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

–      Carl Sagan

Today’s Free Downloads:

EASEUS Todo Backup Free Edition 6.5 – Users are faced with the essential challenge: the need to secure their PC and important files, such as system, family photos, music, applications, personal data and financial documents. If you lose any files you like or need to go back to an earlier version, don’t worry, you can recover them in time. It is a complete free backup and recovery solution for home users.

WSUS Offline Update 8.9 – Using WSUS Offline Update, you can update any computer running Microsoft Windows safely, quickly and without an Internet connection.

SystemRescueCd 4.0.0 – SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the hard disk partitions. It comes with a lot of linux software such as system tools (parted, partimage, fstools, …) and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It requires no installation. It can be used on linux servers, linux desktops or windows boxes. The kernel supports the important file systems (ext2/ext3/ext4, reiserfs, reiser4, btrfs, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), as well as network filesystems (samba and nfs).

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Blackphone: A smartphone designed to stop spying eyes – A new smartphone is soon to hit the shelves. Developed by security experts including those from Silent Circle, they say that privacy will be placed in the hand of the user — and surveillance will be made far more difficult.

Kim Dotcom to start a political party under house arrest – Mega founder Kim DotCom is planning to launch “Megaparty” in time for the New Zealand elections. The eccentric millionaire hopes to get the youth and internet users to be excited about voting.

How NSA bugs Chinese PCs with tiny USB radios – The NSA has compromised almost 100,000 computers around the world in its quest to get its tentacles into air-gapped computers operated by adversaries such as the Chinese Army. The revelation was made by the New York Times in a report published on Tuesday based on documents released by Edward Snowden. The spy agency has penetrated these computers via “a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the internet,” the NYT reports. This tech has been in use since 2008 and uses a “covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards.”

ACLU: ‘Obama, grant Edward Snowden immunity now’ – Days before the president is scheduled to announce possible reform proposals to the NSA’s surveillance programs, the civil liberties group creates a petition calling for Snowden’s amnesty.

Senators question recommended changes to NSA surveillance – Some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned the recommendations of the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, a panel appointed by President Barack Obama after last year’s revelations of bulk data collection and surveillance by the NSA. While critics have questioned the value of the NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. phone- records, courts have seen value in the program, Feinstein said. Other senators repeated their assertion, along with the panel’s, that the phone-records program has provided little essential information to terrorism investigators.

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10 Comments

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

10 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 15, 2014

  1. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Google is, rightly, under a lot of scrutiny and also rightly, is condemned for threatening to release private information without consent. Seems they are getting more and more like most of the other mega-players in the industry.

    Those concerned about privacy do have choices if they are sufficiently interested in applying them. No social media user should expect providers not to exploit them and Google is not alone in this. Nor is it a new phenomenon; it’s just that the landscape has changed and people are prepared to sacrifice more and more privacy in the name of convenience.

    Your quote of Carl Sagan is relevant in the case of social media as well as science and religion; a healthy dose of “skeptical scrutiny” will go a long way towards safeguarding those things we hold dear.

    Hope you’re coping with the big freeze.

    Kind regards,

    John

    • Hi John,

      Google’s behavior is hardly surprising – systemic corruption has seeped into our lives at every level – political, social, corporate, education …………… The vast majority of the unwashed, undereducated slackers who populate the Web, simply don’t give a damn. The “frog in the pot” syndrome in full bloom.

      This Winter has been a return to the Winters of my youth (50s/60s) – the days we had to walk to school and back (in Arctic like conditions) – uphill both ways, of course. 🙂

      EXTREME cold, snow cover from the first week of November, freezing rain, massive accumulation of ice…….. Naturally, climate change opponents here, are using this extreme weather to ramp up their BS. As always, stupidity rules.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. Cnet or Download.com
    This was once a very safe site from which to download your programs.
    Since they started to push their downloader, many of the downloads from this site contain undesirable addons.
    If you notice that the download you want is being pushed through their downloader, you’ll also see directly below the downloader that they offer a direct download link.
    Always use that option when it’s available or, suffer the consequences.
    This site unfortunately isn’t the only one that’s gone down this slippery slope.
    The best advice I can offer is to always use a custom installation.
    Never use the default settings.
    Custom means that you get to see what’s being installed, where it’s being installed and, you get to unselect all the items you don’t want installed.

    • Dead on Bob.

      Case in point – installed 20 + freebies yesterday during a Win 8.1 Enterprise reinstall on my principal machine, two of which were only available through Download.com. One install was an 8 step process, and the second a 7 step process. Add-ons galore – pathetic!

      Best,

      Bill

    • John Bent

      Ahh Bill,

      If only they were all like you and me. How much better a place this world would be 😉

      Kind regards

      John

  3. Sam Kar

    You scared me Bill- Google is Going to Blackmail You
    What should I do now?

    • Hi Sam,

      The video is a bit over the top (a little tongue-in-cheek) – nevertheless, it does accurately reflect the immense power, which Google has, to vacuum the Web for personal details.

      Until such time as governments worldwide, launch a counter offensive against Google’s raping of personal privacy (highly unlikely), there is little we can do. Limited actions we can take include using an alternative search provider like DuckDuckGo. As well, special attention should be paid to removing Google search history.

      Best,

      Bill

      • Sam Kar

        Thanks Bill.
        i’m going to make DuckDuckGo my default search provider, as well as delete search history.

        What do you suggest on using a VPN? could that be of any use, or they also log & provide data to 3rd parties?
        Thanks, Sam

        • Hi Sam,

          Good to hear that you are going with DuckDuckGo.

          Using a VPN is a positive step for those concerned with maintaining as much privacy as possible. While most VPNs declare that they do not log user data, it’s important to keep in mind that users have no guarantee that this is in fact the case. In other words “Trust, but verify” becomes non-operative.

          Even so, I’ve used VPNs for many years – for specific tasks. Some of the better free VPNs include (each link will lead to my reviews of the following) – Hotspot Shield, TunnelBear, JonDo, CyberGhost VPN, Spotflux.

          Hope that helps.

          Best,

          Bill