Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 17, 2014

How to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal with a Range Extender;  How to keep your neighbors from hijacking your Wi-Fi;  The Ghettoization of the Internet;  Five utilities for scanning documents to PDF;  Linux: The clear choice for security;  1 0 ways to sign your name: From pen to browse-wrap;  Top iOS, Android, Windows Phone money saving and finance apps;  Restore your SSD to peak performance;  Canada says Google broke law;  High Court derails Google defence;  China reveals own mobile operating system.

How to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal with a Range Extender – These small boxes can extend the range of your Wi-Fi signal by boosting it and retransmitting it.

How to keep your neighbors from hijacking your Wi-Fi – Your Internet connection could be slow for many reasons, but you can rule out local Wi-Fi thieves by employing strong passwords and a few other strategies.

Net Neutrality and the Ghettoization of the Internet – Without fiercely guarding net neutrality, ISPs could assign higher-priced, top-tier service to customers and provide them with the fastest, most robust bandwidth. Guess what that means? If you are poor and can’t afford top-level service, you won’t get equal access to the Internet. Your access might be slow and choppy.

FCC will find new way to prevent ISP abuse after net neutrality loss – FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today said the commission will take another shot at preventing abusive practices by ISPs after the commission’s Open Internet Order was vacated Tuesday by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Wheeler didn’t detail any specific ways in which the FCC might prevent abuse.

Level Money launches on Android, tells you your daily allowance – Level Money, a budgeting app that focuses on keeping your spending within a daily limit, instead of tracking categories. The idea here is to change the focus from compartmentalized budgets—like groceries, transportation, and shopping—to a new system of cash flow, or “spendability.” Level launched on iOS last October, but joined the Android crowd on Thursday.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Top iOS, Android, Windows Phone money saving and finance apps – Christmas is over and done with, but many of us are left with the bill. What apps are on the market to help you ration your expenses?

Five utilities for scanning documents to PDF – If you have a lot of paper documents laying around, it may be helpful to be able to scan those documents and save them as PDF files. PDF files take up less space than paper documents, and they can make it easy to search for specific information. Here are five utilities for converting paper documents to PDF.

18 great uses for an old Android device – We all love getting new gadgets, but what to do with the old ones? Here are 18 superb ways to put your old Android phone or tablet to good use.

10 IFTTT recipes to make you more productive at work – IFTTT stands for If This, Then That. It’s a free service that lets you build simple, automated processes to handle various online situations. From performing automated Craigslist searches and sending you the relevant results to automatically emailing your colleagues when your plane lands in their area, IFTTT can make you instantly more productive with almost no effort on your part.

Facebook Rolls Out Trending Topics – Desktop users in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India, and Australia will begin seeing the new Trending box on the top right side of the homepage. Denoted by squiggly blue arrows, the topics range from people (Bruce Springsteen, Rex Ryan) to events (Academy Awards, Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show) to places (J.C. Penney).

How to restore your SSD to peak performance – Back in the days when mechanical hard drives with spinning platters were the norm, you could simply hand your old hard drive to a deserving relative or friend as an upgrade, get a thank you, and call it a day. It’s not so simple with today’s solid-state drives.

BitTorrent’s legit Bundles edge out pirated content in top downloads – BitTorrent has its fair share of pirates, but don’t believe the hype: plenty of artist-approved content also circulates on the file-sharing network.

Canada says Google broke law by snooping health info to serve ads – An investigation into Google’s online advertising practices by Canadian regulators has found that the Chocolate Factory served ads based on users’ sensitive health-related information, in violation of the country’s privacy laws. The man claimed that after using Google Search to look up information about devices for treating sleep apnea, he began seeing ads for sleep apnea devices on sites with completely unrelated topics – such as comic strip websites – a pattern he said continued for up to a month.

High Court derails Google defence in Safari browser stalker cookie brouhahaThe High Court in London, England, today rejected Google’s claim that the company is not subject to UK data protection laws. The advertising giant – sued by Brits who allege the company invaded their privacy – tried to argue that Blighty’s courts have “no jurisdiction” over it. But the High Court disagreed, and now Google will have to take its fight to the Court of Appeal. (Fancy that! Google operates on the principal that it’s not subject to any country’s laws.)

Linux: The clear choice for security – According to the UK’s Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), Linux is the clear choice when it comes to security.

Google Now finally invades the desktop in Chrome alpha build – More than a year after early hints that Google Now was coming to PCs, Google’s digital personal assistant has finally hit Chrome’s alpha build. For anyone that wants to try it out, Google Now is available as an option in the latest Chrome Canary build for Windows and Mac, as first noticed by the unofficial Google Operating System blog. Canary is Google’s experimental version of Chrome, chock full of cutting-edge features and more instability than the official version of the browser.

F-Secure Key review: An excessively simple password manager for absolute beginners – Slick and straightforward, F-Secure KEY is a password manager that doesn’t bother you with extra features. It stores your passwords, and that’s it.

Sacramento Kings are first pro sports team to accept Bitcoin – The NBA franchise says it will use BitPay to process digital-currency payments for team merchandise and tickets starting March 1.

10 ways to sign your name: From pen to browse-wrap – It’s more convenient than ever to submit your signature to indicate acceptance or consent. Just be sure you aren’t agreeing to something without even realizing it.

Raspberry Pi: 11 reasons why it’s the perfect small server – An extremely low power draw, small form factor, no noise, solid state storage, and other features make it an attractive solution.

China reveals own mobile operating system – China Operating System (COS) is the official operating system created and sponsored by the Chinese government, with the aim to break the monopoly of U.S. tech giants Google and Apple.


Neiman Marcus hack reportedly went undetected for months – Upscale department store identified security breach in mid-December, but sources tell the New York Times that the hacker’s trail leads back to July.

95% of ATM machines still use Windows XP, and will be exposed to vulnerabilities after April 8 – The world’s ATM machines will soon face a major issue on April 8th: The end of support for their operating system.

Explosive growth of advanced attacks and malicious traffic – The Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report, released today, reveals that threats designed to take advantage of users’ trust in systems, applications and personal networks have reached startling levels. According to the report, a worldwide shortage of nearly a million skilled security professionals is impacting organizations’ abilities to monitor and secure networks, while overall vulnerabilities and threats reached their highest levels since 2000.

Woman scammed out of $500K on Christian dating site – A 66-year-old Californian meets a man claiming to be Irish. Before she knows it, she is embroiled in a Nigerian scam.

Meet The Malware That Took Down Target – The inimitable Brian Krebs has found some interesting details about the massive Target credit card breach that exposed millions of pieces of customer data over the holidays. The hackers used a specific form of malware dedicated to grabbing sensitive data out of hardened point of sale terminals.

Target offers year of free credit monitoring – Looking to recoup burned customers, the big-box retailer offers affected shoppers credit monitoring from Experian — worth $191.

Syrian Electronic Army threatens more cyber attacks on Microsoft – The Syrian Electronic Army hacker group claims that it “didn’t finish our attack” on Microsoft, while the company has admitted the SEA hacked into a “small number” of its email accounts. riddled with flaws that could expose user data, experts say – The federal government’s website continues to be riddled with flaws that expose confidential user data to the public, a security expert testified Thursday at a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Bleepingcomputer: CryptoLocker Ransomware Information Guide and FAQ – There is a lot of incorrect and dangerous information floating around about CryptoLocker. As was one of the first support sites to try helping users who are infected with this infection, I thought it would be better to post all the known information about this infection in one place. This guide, or Frequently Asked Questions, will unfortunately not help you decrypt your files as there is no way to do so. Instead, this FAQ will give you all the information you need to understand the infection and possibly restore your files via other methods.

Company News:

Tim Cook Celebrates China Mobile’s iPhone Launch – The iPhone is finally available for sale in China Mobile stores after Apple spent years negotiating for a deal with the carrier, the world’s largest by subscriber number. In a sign of how important the partnership is to Apple, CEO Tim Cook showed up at the China Mobile launch today to meet customers, pose for pictures, and autograph iPhones.

Intel profit up 6 percent as PC market stabilizes – Intel reported a 6 percent rise in profit on Thursday and said there are signs the PC market is stabilizing. Revenue at the chip giant also increased, though Intel’s data center division, which sells server chips, did less well than the company had hoped.

Intel CEO talks delayed factory, ‘Broadwell’ production start – Intel CEO Brian Krzanich touched on the delay of the chip factory in Arizona, the start of Broadwell production in the first quarter, and the strength of the desktop, among other topics.

Don’t expect Ubuntu phones from major carriers until 2015 – Canonical has been promising Ubuntu phones in the early part of 2014, and it may still reach that goal. However, the phones likely won’t be sold by what the company calls major carriers or handset manufacturers.

Digg Is Experimenting With Original Content – Digg is currently testing a system which would see the viral news aggregator running its own original content on the homepage, the company confirms to us today. This would be a new direction for the betaworks-backed service, which has historically collected the most interesting stories from around the web on its site, where they’re then voted on by Digg users.

Games and Entertainment:

Woo-hoo! FX app will legally stream every episode of ‘The Simpsons’ – Starting in August, you’ll be able to watch more than 500 episodes on demand — as long as you’re already an FX subscriber.

Microsoft Sold 908,000 Xbox One Consoles In The US In December, Besting The PS4 – According to NPD numbers published by Microsoft, 908,000 Xbox One consoles were sold in the United States in December. Microsoft had previously reported that its new console had sold 1 million units in its first day of availability globally, and 3 million through the end of 2013.

Xbox One owners can register for Titanfall alpha – Xbox One owners with an Origin account from EA can now register their interest in being accepted in an upcoming alpha test for the highly anticipated first person shooter Titanfall.

Baldur’s Gate II Arrives on iPad with All Expansion Content and Remastered Artwork – Mobile gaming isn’t just about new experiences, it’s an opportunity to revisit classics in a different context. Such is the case with Baldur’s Gate II, which just arrived in the App Store. Like the original Baldur’s Gate iPad remake, this game has been crafted especially for the iPad with updated graphics, touch-friendly controls, and a ton of content.

Nananana…Classic ‘Batman’ TV series box set to be released – Adam West and Burt Ward finally make their “Batman” DVD debut with a box set to be released this year of the classic live-action TV show thanks to Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Surgeon uses Google Glass to access critical data – Part of your doctor’s prep routine for surgery could one day include donning Google Glass. CNET’s Kara Tsuboi visits an operating room at UCSF to see how doctors are already using Glass.

Sleeping spacecraft Rosetta nearly ready to wake up for comet landing – The Rosetta spacecraft is due to wake up on the morning of January 20 after a 30-month hibernation in deep space. For the past ten years, the three-ton spacecraft has been on a one-way trip to a 4 km-wide comet. When it arrives, it will set about performing a maneuver that has never been done before: landing on a comet’s surface.

Google Unveils Smart Contact Lens That Lets Diabetics Measure Their Glucose Levels – This isn’t Google Glass in a contact lens, but it may just be Google’s first step in this direction. The company’s Google X lab just teased a smart contact lens on its blog that is meant to help diabetics measure their glucose levels. The company says it is currently testing prototypes of this contact lens that use a tiny wireless chip and a miniaturized glucose sensor. These chips are embedded in between two soft layers of lens material.

Calif. court dismisses Google Glass traffic ticket – A court in Southern California has dismissed what was apparently the first-ever traffic citation issued for wearing Google Glass while driving. The initial incident and Thursday’s dismissal have attracted a lot of media attention, and it may not be the last time the issue plays out. While dismissing the ticket, the commissioner said he does believe Google Glass falls under the definition of a video screen in state law.

How Isaac Asimov got 2014 both so right and so wrong – In 1964, the famed writer shared his vision of our time. Some predictions were spot-on, while others were wildly off base. Crave’s Eric Mack thinks he knows why.

Something to think about:

The proposition that the people are the best keepers of their own liberties is not true. They are the worst conceivable, they are no keepers at all; they can neither judge, act, think, or will, as a political body.”

–      John Adams

Today’s Free Downloads:

GMER – GMER is an application that detects rootkits and allows you to monitor system functions including drivers loading, libraries loading, file functions, registry entries, TCP/IP connections and more.

AxCrypt – AxCrypt is the leading open source file encryption software for Windows. It integrates seamlessly with Windows to compress, encrypt, decrypt, store, send and work with individual files.

PeerBlock 1.2 – PeerBlock lets you control who your computer “talks to” on the Internet. By selecting appropriate lists of “known bad” computers, you can block communication with advertising or spyware oriented servers, computers monitoring your p2p activities, computers which have been “hacked”, even entire countries! They can’t get in to your computer, and your computer won’t try to send them anything either. And best of all, it’s free!

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The NSA Collects Hundreds Of Millions Of Global SMS Messages Every Day – Another day, another NSA story involving dragnet surveillance of global communications. Out this morning in the Guardian is news of Dishfire, an NSA program that collects nearly 200 million text messages each day. The program is notable for its scale, and what the Guardian quotes as its “untargeted” nature. It is not collecting the SMS notes of targets, but instead of apparently random individuals on a larger scale. The GCHQ, the United Kingdom’s NSA equivalent, can access the information, with some safeguards in place regarding its own citizens. According to a GCHQ document, the program collects “pretty much everything it can,” making it likely a controversial effort. The program is broad enough that documents indicate that analysts are asked to constrain searches to no more than 1,800 phone numbers at a time. Want to know if you are protected from Dishfire’s reach? Here you go…………

Lies, lies, and more damned Washington lies: Why you shouldn’t expect much on NSA ‘reforms’ – A painful political pill to swallow washed down with bitter reality: President Barack Obama’s second-term legacy (which will likely overshadow his first) is about as secure as the 1.6 million documents stolen by former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden. There is a chance for him to come out of this looking like the good guy. After all, he inherited the National Security Agency (NSA) as we see today from the political leftovers from President George W. Bush, who ramped up the surveillance efforts — though arguably, it started way back with Truman in the early 1950s.

Five Misconceptions About US Cyber Espionage – The evidence is clear; thanks to former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden’s meticulous gathering of largely uncontested documents before his effective defection from his employer and country in June 2013. Recent reports reveal collection of the metadata and sometimes the content of communications within France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and Brazil. Both the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have been implicated in this cyber espionage. Unfortunately, the evidence has been technically and politically misrepresented. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Washington State Moves To Block NSA Surveillance – Washington State Rep. Matt Shea (R) has introduced a “Fourth Amendment Protection Act’ that would block all unlawful NSA surveillance and lay the groundwork for other states to follow suit. House BIll 2272 (PDF), which also received bipartisan backing from Representatives Taylor, Moscoso, Overstreet, Scott, Blake, and Condotta, would codify Washington State’s refusal to allow the federal government to collect the electronic information of its citizens without a warrant. Crucially, the legislation would prohibit state-owned utilities from providing water and electricity to physical NSA locations in the state like the U.S. Army’s Yakima Training Center, which serves as an NSA listening post. The bill would also ban public universities from serving as NSA research facilities. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Bruce Schneier: Today I Briefed Congress on the NSA – This morning I spent an hour in a closed room with six Members of Congress: Rep. Lofgren, Rep. Sensenbrenner, Rep. Scott, Rep. Goodlate, Rep Thompson, and Rep. Amash. No staffers, no public: just them. Lofgren asked me to brief her and a few Representatives on the NSA. She said that the NSA wasn’t forthcoming about their activities, and they wanted me — as someone with access to the Snowden documents — to explain to them what the NSA was doing. Of course I’m not going to give details on the meeting, except to say that it was candid and interesting. And that it’s extremely freaky that Congress has such a difficult time getting information out of the NSA that they have to ask me. I really want oversight to work better in this country. (OK Bruce, you’re all for full disclosure – yet, when you have an opportunity to be candid, you choose not to be. Confused by your own sense of importance, are you? BS to the max, Bruce.)

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