Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 16, 2014

7 Chilling Ways the NSA Can Spy On You;  A Beginner’s Guide to Home Automation;  New mobile Chrome feature – cut your data usage by up to half;  Why you should care about Net neutrality;  Box offers 50GB for free;  Google images by usage rights;  Swap files between your PC and Android device;  16 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School;  Debunking the “NSA Mass Surveillance Could Have Stopped 9/11” Myth.

7 Chilling Ways the NSA Can Spy On You – The German newspaper recently published a document from a National Security Agency (NSA) division called ANT, which reads like a catalogue of secret spy tactics. ANT’s programs have bizarre and slightly hilarious names – from HOWLERMONKEY and JUNIORMINT to DROPOUTJEEP and WATERWITCH – but the details of what they do and how they do it are more chilling than humorous.

Why you should care about Net neutrality – CNET’s Maggie Reardon explains what an appeals court decision to throw out the FCC’s Net neutrality rules means to the average consumer — and why it matters.

Spotify lifts time limits — letting users listen on and on – At one time, only people paying $10 a month could listen to music streaming on the Web indefinitely. Now, anyone can.

Box offers 50GB for free to users who try its Apple iOS app – Cloud storage service Box announced today it’s giving away 50GB of free storage for users who try the new version of its Apple iOS app. In order to get the 50 free gigabytes of cloud capacity, users must download the app within the next 30 days, according to the company’s official blog.

How to easily swap files between your PC and Android device with AirDroid – The HomeGroup option in Windows is a great way to share files and printers between PCs you have on your home network—but it doesn’t support mobile devices. Until it does, we’ll have to make do with our own workarounds for trading files wirelessly between PCs and ‘Droids. That’s where AirDroid—an app I use every day to transfer music, photos, and other files between my Android devices and my Windows PC—comes in.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New mobile Chrome feature can cut your data usage by up to half – Google is adding a feature to its Chrome mobile browser that can reduce data usage by up to 50 percent, which could avoid extra data charges from carriers. The feature, which manages bandwidth and compresses data, will be in Chrome for Android and iOS, wrote Matt Welsh, a Google software engineer, on a company blog.

Nest and Beyond: A Beginner’s Guide to Home Automation – From controlling lights and temperature to keeping your family safe and sound, the “Internet of Things” lets you monitor your home from afar via mobile devices. Here’s what you need to get started.

Geek 101: How to transfer music from iTunes to Android – You already know that direct syncing isn’t happening as long as Apple has anything to say about it, so here are your options for how to transfer your music from iTunes to Android.

Expand your iPhone’s photo tools with Slow Shutter Cam – The redesigned Slow Shutter Cam gives you greater control over your iPhone’s camera, letting you create artistic compositions or just avoid using the flash in low-light settings.

Chrome Update Fights Noisy Tabs, Adds Parental Controls – Google’s latest stable Chrome release offers users peace of mind—and browser—with its new ability to suss out noisy tabs and malware.

Ad blockers: A solution or a problem? – Ad blockers can make websites cleaner and faster for users, but they can also take a nasty bite out of advertising revenue. How popular are they, and what can site publishers do about them?

Linux command line cheat sheet – While most people loathe the command line, it is undoubtedly the most efficient way to get things done. If you are one of those who will freak out when you are on the terminal, here’s a list of useful Linux commands that you can use to make your workflow more productive. (Registration required)

How to filter Google image searches by usage rights – Filter which images you can freely use for commercial or non-commercial purposes right on your search results page.

Security concerns are still holding back cloud adoption – There are significant differences in public cloud infrastructure concerns between the cloud-wise, organizations that are currently using cloud services, and the cloud-wary, organizations that are not using cloud services and have no near-term plans to do so.

Adobe brings 3D printing to Photoshop CC – In the update now available, Creative Cloud subscribers will see a boatload of enhancements to Photoshop — including some interesting support for 3D printing — and some minor changes for InDesign and Illustrator.

Volunteering is work, too: LinkedIn now connects you to nonprofits – LinkedIn launched a Volunteer Marketplace for professionals to pad their resumes with nonprofit work.


Security Essentials for Windows XP gets a 15-month reprieve – While it will provide updated signature definitions, the company warns that its research “shows that the effectiveness of anti-malware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited.” In other words, it’s hard to provide a robust anti-malware system when hostile code can penetrate processes and the kernel willy-nilly just through attacking the browser.

AV vendors buck Microsoft, will deliver Windows XP anti-malware signatures for years – Kaspersky, BitDefender and Avira, for example, which placed 1-2-3 in AV-Test’s September-October 2013 examination of AV products for Windows XP, have pledged to support consumers until 2018, January 2016 and April 2015, respectively. On the business side, Kaspersky, Symantec and Trend Micro products topped the list; Kaspersky will support its end-point AV software on XP until the second half of 2016, Trend Micro until Jan. 30, 2017. Symantec has not set an end date.

TrueCrypt Master Key Extraction and Volume Identification – An anonymous reader writes “The Volatility memory forensics project has developed plugins that can automatically find instances of Truecrypt within RAM dumps and extract the associated keys and parameters. With the creation of these plugins a wide range of investigators can now decrypt Truecrypt volumes regardless of the algorithm used (AES, Seperent, combinations of algos, etc.). Users of Truecrypt should be extra careful of physical security of their systems to prevent investigators from gaining access to the contents of physical memory.”

Starbucks caught storing mobile passwords in clear text – In a case of convenience for users trumping security, Starbucks has been storing the passwords for its mobile-payment app, along with geolocation data, in clear text.

Microsoft: Some Employee Email Accounts Were Compromised By The Syrian Electronic Army – It is unclear the extent of the security breach, and if emails were taken from the accounts or in other ways stored that could prove embarrassing for Microsoft. To have your social accounts’ security snapped is par for the course in our current age. To have your email systems broken into is another game, especially if you are the company that built the system, and if you’re selling it to companies around the world.

Amazon and GoDaddy are the biggest malware hosters – The United States is the leading malware hosting nation, with 44 percent of all malware hosted domestically, according to Solutionary. The U.S. hosts approximately 5 times more malware than the second-leading malware-hosting nation, Germany, which is responsible for 9 percent of the detected malware.

Giant snake swallows zookeeper video scam spreads on Facebook – Facebook users are once again being duped into helping fraudsters earn money, by sharing links claiming to link to a shocking video. On this occasion the messages – which are spreading quickly across Facebook – claim to link to a gruesome video of a giant snake eating a zookeeper.

Company News:

Apple coughs up 7 hours of profit to refund kids’ $32.5m app buying spree – American parents whose children ran up huge bills from in-app purchases on Apple devices will be refunded $32.5m by the Cupertino titan. The settlement was brokered by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after youngsters were able to buy heaps of useless stuff in software – such as power-ups in games – without their guardians’ full permission.

HP dips toe back into the smartphone waters with Android phablets in India – While HP hasn’t announced a price yet, devices in the Indian market are usually bought off contract, so HP will have to keep the price down. Hopefully this go-around will be better than HP’s last experience with smartphones, which involved buying and then killing Palm and WebOS for $1.2 billion.

Google snaps up security firm Impermium – Startup Impermium gives Google’s already-solid security a boost in combating spam, fraud, and abuse. It could be a good fit for Google+.

Report: eBay To Launch “The Plaza,” A New Brand-Focused Online Mall For Retail Goods – According to a new report from Macquarie Capital, marketplace giant eBay is set to launch a new vertical this spring called The Plaza on eBay that will focus on direct-to-consumer sales.

LinkedIn hires China chief in plans to tap market – The appointment is one of the biggest indications that the social network is finally ramping up its plans to officially enter the market, which is already crowded with Chinese clones of LinkedIn.

Games and Entertainment:

Keep alien invaders at bay in Ziggurat – Alien freaks have just wiped out the rest of humanity, and you are the last man standing. Do you feel lucky, human?

Diablo III heading to Xbox One soon – The release on Xbox 360 and PS3 were met with mild success, and we knew that there was a PS4 version on the way, but it looks like the Xbox One will be getting a release as well.

Google Play Movies & TV app arrives on iOS but with lots of limits – Google has launched its newest app for iOS devices, allowing owners to view movies and television videos purchased via the Google Play service on the iPhone and iPad.

Now We’re Talkin’: RBI Baseball to Be Resurrected Soon – The good news: RBI Baseball is coming back after a 19-year hiatus. The bad news: RBI Baseball is coming back after a 19-year hiatus. Something tells me that this game – which will be available sometime this spring on consoles, tablets and smartphones – won’t be the same Nintendo-thumb-inducing brouhaha I remember from 1988.

Off Topic (Sort of):

ADT’s home security contracts: A protection racket? – That “free” ADT home security system could end up costing you a lot of money if you want to escape from your contract.

16 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School – I am 28 now. I don’t think about the past or regret things much these days. But sometimes I wish that I had known some of things I have learned over the last few years a bit earlier. That perhaps there had been a self-improvement class in school. And in some ways there probably was. Here are 16 things I wish they had taught me in school (or I just would like to have known about earlier).

10 things I DON’T miss about old technology – The good old days of 1980s technology weren’t always good. Read about 10 things few (if any) people will miss about that era.

As part of budget deal, Congress blocks light bulb efficiency standards – As part of the new budget deal announced today, Congress has voted to eliminate standards for light bulb efficiency, standards that would see incandescent bulbs phased out in favor of technologies that convert far more electricity into light.

Hate Parking Tickets? Fixed Fights Them In Court For You – Up to 50% of parking tickets are dismissed when fought in court, but it takes knowledge and time to do it. New app Fixed will do it for you. Take a photo of your ticket, Fixed contests it, and if it’s dismissed, you pay Fixed 25%of the ticket price. If Fixed loses, you pay it nothing, so there’s nothing to lose. Fixed just launched in San Francisco, but wants to fight tickets nationwide.

iOS users spend more money online than Android users; Study reveals – A new analysis based on the 2013 holiday season sales from various devices has revealed that iOS is still the most lucrative platform as users make more purchases online from Apple devices.

Revolutionary Scuba Mask Creates Breathable Oxygen Underwater On Its Own – The regulator comprises a plastic mouthpiece that requires you to simply bite down. There are two arms that branch out to the sides of the scuba mask that have been developed to function like the efficient gills of a marine creature. The scaly texture conceals small holes in the material where water is sucked in. Chambers inside separate the oxygen and release the liquid so that you can breath comfortably in the ocean.”

Even President Obama Thinks That Facebook Isn’t Cool Anymore – The once dominant social network has most certainly fallen from its hyper-exclusive, hyper-popular beginnings to become the place where moms and uncles post their political opinions and baby pictures. (At least, I think. I haven’t been on Facebook in forever.) In fact, Facebook has lost so much of its cool factor that even President Obama knows it.

Something to think about:

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

–     Anatole France

Today’s Free Downloads:

Remote Utilities Free (Viewer) – Unleash the full power of professional remote control software by installing Remote Utilities across your entire Windows network.

Remote Utilities Free (Host) – Unleash the full power of professional remote control software by installing Remote Utilities across your entire Windows network.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

FISA judges oppose plan for privacy advocate: Say plan to add privacy advocate to secret court could hamper its work – The creation of the position of a privacy advocate, to represent privacy and civil liberty issues in the court, was first suggested in August by U.S. President Barack Obama in the wake of demands for reforms of the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency.

Bruce Schneier: How the NSA Threatens National Security – Secret NSA eavesdropping is still in the news. Details about once secret programs continue to leak. The Director of National Intelligence has recently declassified additional information, and the President’s Review Group has just released its report and recommendations. With all this going on, it’s easy to become inured to the breadth and depth of the NSA’s activities. But through the disclosures, we’ve learned an enormous amount about the agency’s capabilities, how it is failing to protect us, and what we need to do to regain security in the Information Age.

Huawei dismisses NSA backdoor claims as profits soar: “For the last time, we’re NOT a security risk” – It’s been a mixed week for Chinese telecoms giant Huawei after the firm announced impressive financials but was forced again to deny allegations of security weaknesses in its products. The device and telecoms kit maker announced its unaudited financials on Wednesday, claiming sales revenue for 2013 will reach between 238 billion and 240 billion yuan (£24bn). This will be a year-on-year jump of around 8 per cent, or 11.6 per cent when measured in US dollars.

Bruce Schneier: Debunking the “NSA Mass Surveillance Could Have Stopped 9/11” Myth – It’s something that we’re hearing a lot, both from NSA Director General Keith Alexander and others: the NSA’s mass surveillance programs could have stopped 9/11. It’s not true, and recently two people have published good essays debunking this claim.

Latest leak suggests NSA can spy on offline computers – The latest leak regarding the US National Security Agency (NSA) allege that they were able to modify computers to obtain the ability to spy on users even when they were not connected to any network.

Blackphone announced; claims to offer more security and privacy – Two companies, Silent Circle and Geeksphone, have announced plans to release the Android-based Blackphone, which they claim will offer more security and privacy than regular handsets.


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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 16, 2014

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    7 Chilling Ways the NSA Can Spy On You
    “Amidst the uproar over NSA spying programs, meanwhile, President Obama launched a review of the agency’s tactics. On Friday, he is expected to share his recommendations for curbing surveillance at home and abroad.”
    Of course he will, why he is a Champion of Liberty and the little guy!
    16 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School
    Well as the saying goes, Bill, better late than never.
    I come for the techy stuff and learn so much more, and the quotes…

    • Thanks Fred.

      Life consists of a hell of lot more than TECH – despite industry pressure to convince us otherwise. Freedom, good governance, education, affordable health care, a living wage, overhauling the justice system – just a few of life’s issues that are immeasurably more important than Google et al.